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What's with the conifer advantage?

Posted by njoasis 7 (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 11, 12 at 8:42

Could someone explain why conifers seem to dominate over deciduous (or broad leaved plants) in certain environments. Why do they seem to have the advantage in cool/wet, marine climates (the Northwest for example), and also subarctic/cold and dry climates. Deciduous forests seem to dominate much of the East, but then there's the Southeast/subtropical dominance of pines and cypress (which actually runs from Long Island & NJ down into Florida). Where I live, it's mostly deciduous with a conifer minority but if you drive a short distance to the coast or to nearby wetlands, it becomes dominated by conifers. I've always been curious about these patterns of mixed dominance. Finally, do conifers dominate in any fully tropical environment? Thanks in advance.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

your name mystifies me.. i have never been to NJ ... so all i have to go on.. is all the cliches... but one thing i never think of it as .. is an oasis .. lol ...

when i was a kid.. we would go hiking in Wixom MI ... the first half of the hike.. was thru CCC plantings of pine.. perfectly on center ... maybe 10 to 20 feet apart... and it seemed like they were 100 feet tall.. but i was smaller then.. lol ...

half way thru ... we crossed the huron river ... and there was a big sign.. that explained.. that we were now entering a CLIMAX FOREST .... check out the link below ... and google CLIMAX forest.. and flip to the images side ...

it is my recollection. . that the hardwoods are the climax ... over the centuries ....

BUT.. your observation may be lacking.. since you live in ... trying hard not to make a NJ joke... where the settlers.. for the last 200 years.. harvested all the hardwoods ... so the fauna has regressed... to the soft woods.. ..

and that is all i am willing to type on this absolutely glorious MI day ... at 2 in the afternoon ...

in summation.. given a century or two.. the pines will not dominate [paragraph 4, i think] .. according to theory .... as i think the article alludes to [but i have to be honest.. i didnt read it all] ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

What mystifies me is is your snide, condescending tone.

RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

wow ....

forgive me .. i was in a stellar mood from the weather .. i intended nothing amiss ...

i will try to remember to not bother you any more ...


RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

  • Posted by botann z8 SEof Seattle (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 11, 12 at 19:18

The Pine Barrens are in New Jersey.
New Jersey is the garden State. Not ornamental gardens, but veggie gardens. They supply a lot of New York City's vegetables.
Also the worst airport I've ever been in. Newark.

RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

Nj, forest succession is a complicated and, IMO, fascinating subject. Soils, climate, individual weather events, and the hand of man have all led to what we see before us. I myself have wondered just exactly why the western mountains of this country are so very dominated by conifers, including, as you said, both wet, maritime regions, and the drier parts of the Rockies, etc. But again, each case really needs to be considered on its own basis. Then there are "sub-climax" forest species. These can be dominant in a given stand for hundreds of years, yet are not necessarily the climax forest. It really does get complicated!

Pinetree30, Spruceman, and of course, Pineresin, should they see this thread, could all offer relevant parts of the picture.


RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

1 reviewer said - What mystifies me is his snide, condescending tone.

RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

I have nothing to add to the original question. However, I was raised and gardened in Michigan but moved to NJ almost 30 years ago. The first spring I was here I was dumbstruck by the beautiful dogwood, rhododendrons & others. I love gardening in NJ!

That being said....I'll always be a Wolverine--GO BLUE!

Here is a link that might be useful: A public garden in my county

RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

In general, the domination of conifer or flowering plants depends on how adapted they are to the unique characteristics of an ecosystem.

Best to handle each scenario independently:

NJ pine barrens for example - Fire influenced landscape with nutrient poor drought prone soils. It's an early successional forest populated by fire adapted conifers that are exceptionally good at colonizing (cones that open in fire, easily distributed seed, preferred mineral soil seed bed, seedling drought tolerance, fast growing young trees without a requirement for shelter, tolerance for poor soils, etc.) Where fire has been absent, the successional forest has progressed to Oak.

Many of those same attributes also apply to the southeastern pine forests.

Maybe someone else could tackle another ecosystem?

RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

Ken, my friend, how many times I've to tell you not being rude here at this forum?
You're a bad student ;0)

RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

  • Posted by beng z6b western MD (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 12, 12 at 12:14

Conifers don't dominate here (but there are spots nearby that they do). But they do have advantages -- like right now. They have a headstart happily making food during mild, sunny days like today while hardwoods are still asleep.

RE: What's with the conifer advantage?

  • Posted by orso 5 ? (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 12, 12 at 14:27

Here is something to read about evergreen vs deciduous. I hope you enjoy reading it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Adaptive Significance of Evergreen vs. Deciduous Leaves: Solving the Triple Paradox

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