Deciduous Conifers

deciuous conifer heading

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Larix decidua
(European Larch) | Taxodium distichum (Baldcypress) | Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood)


Though not common in Nebraska, there are many broadleaf evergreens. Likewise, though not nearly as numerous, there are deciduous conifers/needle-leafed plants. Of the five deciduous genera of deciduous conifers (Glyptostrobus, Larix, Metasequoia, Pseudolarix, and Taxodium), three are represented in Maxwell Arboretum.

Conifers are old; they pre-date the rise of angiosperms (flowering plants) by many millions of years. And two deciduous conifers are particularly old, dating back to the mid-tertiary swaps. Taxodium and Metasequoia are remnants of formerly much more geographically widespread groups. Metasequoia now exists only in a very small pocket in China.

The three large Taxodium distichum in Maxwell were planted by Earl G. Maxwell, the arboretum's eponymous State Extension Forester, in the early 1940s and are, therefore, some of the oldest trees we have. The two Larix and the Metasequoia at the north end of the arboretum were planted in 2008 and, together with the State Champion Taxodium distichum and its "baby," they make a nice group of deciduous conifers in that area to study and compare. (The smaller self-planted Taxodium germinated sometime around 2001.)

Now that you know about deciduous conifers, there's no need to panic when you see the needles of a supposed "evergreen" tree turn yellow or orange-brown and fall to the ground.

Click on one of Maxwell Arboretum's three deciduous conifer species for more information: