Plant ID forum: Very Long Needles Grow Out of Spruce

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RCSCarey
Sep 3, 2016 10:07 AM CST
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I adopted this Spruce (or what I think is a Spruce) from a friend who bought it at Home Depot during Christmas time, then didn't want it after Christmas. It's in a ~1 gallon container and has been on my balcony next to a potted Long Leaf Pine.

This past Spring it started growing these long pine needles (or what looks to be long pine needles). But that doesn't make any sense to me since its genetic makeup is already written.

I've researched it online without luck.

Is this actually a Spruce? Do Spruce normally grow these long needles among their small needles? If not, what is happening to this poor little unwanted freak plant? lol.

Thank you,

Rachel
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Sep 3, 2016 10:37 AM CST
Hi Rachel, Welcome! to NGA

Yes, its genetic makeup was already set and nothing will change that. But what your friend gave you is an Italian Stone Pine (Pinus pinea). They are sold as seedlings at Christmas time but the mature tree has long green needles.



https://www.google.com/search?q=pinus+pinea&espv=2&biw=1920&...
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Sep 3, 2016 3:20 PM CST
Yes, Daisy is right, but I'll take the mystery out of her answer....

Your spruce is actually a pine seedling that looks like a spruce. It is most likely an Italian Stone pine, but in the recent past, the more commonly used species was Pinaster pine. These species grow much more quickly into little ornamental "spruce" trees for Christmas sales than do real spruces, and so are quite popular. The seedlings are in their juvenile stage, when their needles are short and arranged differently than in the adult stage. The long, stiff, aberrant needles that give the plant a "bad haircut" are the adult form of the needles. Your plant is going through puberty! nodding As the plant continues to grow, more of these adult needles will crop up, until the plant is all adult needles.

For aesthetic purposes, you could snip off the long needles at their juncture with the stem, but it's ultimately a losing proposition. As the tree ages, there will be more and more popping up. Short of growth hormone treatment, there really isn't anything you can do to prevent the normal maturation of the seedling.

RCSCarey
Sep 3, 2016 4:27 PM CST
DaisyI said:Hi Rachel, Welcome! to NGA

Yes, its genetic makeup was already set and nothing will change that. But what your friend gave you is an Italian Stone Pine (Pinus pinea). They are sold as seedlings at Christmas time but the mature tree has long green needles.



]https://www.google.com/search?q=pinus+pinea&espv=2&biw=1920&...

[quote="Leftwood"]Yes, Daisy is right, but I'll take the mystery out of her answer....

Your spruce is actually a pine seedling that looks like a spruce. It is most likely an Italian Stone pine, but in the recent past, the more commonly used species was Pinaster pine. These species grow much more quickly into little ornamental "spruce" trees for Christmas sales than do real spruces, and so are quite popular. The seedlings are in their juvenile stage, when their needles are short and arranged differently than in the adult stage. The long, stiff, aberrant needles that give the plant a "bad haircut" are the adult form of the needles. Your plant is going through puberty! nodding As the plant continues to grow, more of these adult needles will crop up, until the plant is all adult needles.

For aesthetic purposes, you could snip off the long needles at their juncture with the stem, but it's ultimately a losing proposition. As the tree ages, there will be more and more popping up. Short of growth hormone treatment, there really isn't anything you can do to prevent the normal maturation of the seedling.


Thank you for the links, photos and descriptions, Daisy and Leftwood! I would have never guessed my very deceiving Pine was going through puberty! Hilarious. I love the intelligence of the plant community and it just makes me want to learn more.
In my follow-up research, I learned you can harvest the pine nuts the Italian Stone Pine, and it's one of only about 18 pine trees which have nuts large enough to be "human food". This will take 15 years of care, but maybe I'll get there - especially now that I actually know what it is. Thank you so much for your help! --Rachel

Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Sep 3, 2016 5:51 PM CST
We got them for my children when they were very young (their very own Christmas trees to decorate!). When Christmas was over, we planted them out in the yard. The trees eventually were their favorites as the pine needles are very long and thin. Perfect for basket making.

Even after the tree is mature, it will continue making those juvenile needles periodically.

PS: Thank you for the acorn!
[Last edited by DaisyI - Sep 3, 2016 5:52 PM (+)]
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