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Friday, May 22, 2015

Confier Casualties

You might recall or have noticed that we planted some conifer trees on the Berry Prairie.  TREES?! you say?  Yes trees!  But they're dwarf conifers, meaning they'll get maybe 4 or 5 feet tall, and that's about it.  We really wanted to plant a few species that would add some vertical interest on the roof, and these dwarf varieties of native (or near-native) species seemed like a good fit. 

For those of you scratching your heads, conifers are trees with needle-like leaves, such as pines, spruces, firs, etc.  They usually are evergreens, meaning they drop only about 1/3 of their needles each year; however, there are a few (larches, for example) that drop all of their needles every year like other deciduous trees (think oaks and aspens).  But they're still conifers!  Just a fun fact for your Friday.

These larches aren't dead - they're conifers that drop all of their leaves (needles) each fall.

The conifers on our roof are all evergreens.  So if they're not green right now, it's not a good sign.  We have had a few apparent or near casualties amongst the conifers so far this spring - 3 of the dozen or so that are out there are looking a little dry and winter burnt.

Conifers all over Wyoming are looking pretty tough this spring.  Arborists are connecting the dead-looking trees with the major cold snap we had in mid-November - we went from the mid 50's and low 60's to sub-zero temperatures over-night, which wreaked havoc on plants that hadn't entered dormancy, and the evergreens.  Read more about it here:

We don't know if that's what hit some of our conifers on the green roof, or if it's something else.  But we won't yank the poor things out yet.  We'll wait to see if they recover over the next year or two - they might look a little shabby but we'll give them a chance to get back to their green glory (like the other trees below).

Written by Brenna Marsicek, UW Biodiversity Institute

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