Iowa has two kinds of native evergreen trees, which stay green year-round due to their rolled-up, waxy leaves that are known as needles. These leaves are resistant to cold and stay moist, keep them green all year long.

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Red cedars are native to Iowa, but they are often considered a pest and are challenging for conservation groups attempting to preserve prairie and oak savannas. That is because these trees do not stay where planted. Instead, they spread and thrive because they can withstand grazing, drought and fire.

Photo of an eastern red cedar

Size

Although you often see small eastern red cedars that have spread and are just starting to grow, if left alone they can reach heights of 50-75 feet.

Habitat

Eastern red cedars can grow just about anywhere, but they really like dry, calcerous soil and full sun.

Leaves

The evergreen needles grow in four rows, opposite of each other. The new foliage at the tips of branches is prickly.

Seeds

Red cedars produce berries that are a food source for a variety of wildlife.

Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)

Although eastern white pines are actually native to the northeast corner of the state, they are planted throughout the state and can be found in Dickinson County.

Size

Eastern white pines grow 100-200 feet tall, and they can live up to 300 years in the right conditions.

Habitat

White pines like part-shade to full sun and grow well in mesic or dry-mesic soil that is slightly acidic and well-drained. They like to be protected from hot, dry winds.

Leaves

The white pine’s needles are blue-green and more soft and flexible than the red cedar’s.

Photo of white pine needles

Seeds

White pines produce, you guessed it, pinecones!

 

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