Plant Guide: Native Plant Communities
Transitional Zone: Conifer swamp forest
Conifer literally means "cone-bearing" tree, and includes the familiar pines, spruces, tamarack, cedar, and balsam fir.
Conifers are sometimes called "evergreen" trees because they keep their leaves, or needles, all year (except tamarack which loses its needles each fall).
Three species of conifer in particular occur in swamps in Minnesota: tamarack (Larix laricina), black spruce and white cedar (Thuja occidentalis). They sometimes occur in pure stands, but more often are intermixed.
All three conifer species are normally found in saturated, acidic, peat soil, often with Sphagnum moss. They also do well in wet loamy or sandy soil. Northern white cedar is tolerant of shade, and grows well beneath a canopy of other trees, but black spruce and tamarack need full sunlight to thrive.