Conifer Tree Identification by  Leaf Shape  

The Field Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe includes an identification key for Conifer trees based  on leaf shape. The key lists over 40 species and divides them into 12 leaf shapes. Use this key to get a preliminary identification, then use the Conifer Cone key to get a more precise identification. Click on TREE NAMES in RED to get more information/photos about some common conifer species.

CEDARS AND LARCHES

Needles in clusters of 20–45

 Atlas CedarCedar of Lebanon, Deodar, European Larch

scoot pine needles
PINES 
Needles in clusters of 2, 3 or 5

 2 – Austrian Pine,  Bishop Pine, Corsican Pine, Lodgepole Pine,  Scots Pine,  Stone Pine,  3 – Monterey Pine, 5 – Arolla Pine, Bhutan Pine, Weymouth Pine

common juniper needles

JUNIPERS

Spiky needles in clusters of 3

Common Juniper, Chinese Juniper 

dawn redwood needles
DECIDUOUS CONIFERS
Rows of flat, light green, deciduous needles

HEMLOCKS

Short and Long Needles

Western Hemlock

SPRUCES

Needles on Woody Pegs where they join the shoot

Sitka Spruce, Colorado Spruce, Norway Spruce, Oriental Spruce, Serbian Spruce

FIRS

Needles on Pads where they join the shoot

Douglas Fir, European Silver Fir, Caucasian Fir, Grand Fir, Noble Fir, Spanish Fir

YEWS

Needles on Green Shoots

Common Yew, Irish Yew

TRUE CYPRESSES/FALSE CEDARS

Scale-like leaves in Flat (2D) Sprays like a fern

Lawson Cypress, Nootka Cypress, Sawara Cypress, Hinoki Cypress,  Western Red Cedar, Incense Cedar

FALSE CYPRESSES

Scale-like leaves on short sprays that stick out in 3D effect.

Italian Cypress, Monterey Cypress, Smooth Arizona Cypress

LEYLAND CYPRESS

Flat Sprays stick out at different angles to give 3D effect

Leyland Cypress

GIANT SEQUOIA

Short scale-like leaves with outward pointing tip. Massive tree with spongy red bark.

Giant Sequoia

JAPANESE RED CEDAR

Long, slightly curved scale-like leaves

Japanese Red Cedar

MONKEY PUZZLE

Hard, leathery and spine-tipped leaves

Monkey Puzzle