On this page we provide you with two ways to identify the most common wielding conifers in New Zealand.

The first way is to use an interactive LUCIDTM Conifer Key developed by SCION.

IMPORTANT: Instructions to use the interactive LUCIDTM key (link below) have changed and it is now necessary to include our website in the exemption site list as the LUCIDTM key is a self-signed applet. This was not a problem previously but recently Oracle has removed the ability to run unsigned java applets (the key is such an applet).

To include the website exemption do the following:

open the java control panel (under programs -> java -> configure java

select security tab

select high

type our web adress http://www.wildingconifers.org.nz

and OK

once you have done this and you click to the link below you might get asked if you want the application you need to click "I accept the risk..." tick box to get the key started.

We realize this is a bit more difficult than previously but the only way at the moment to use the interactive key:


(click here)


The second option is to use the table-style identification key below:

The table below was created by Nick Ledgard (Scion) in order to assist the identification of common introduced conifers in the field.  For this reason, it has been kept simple, only utilising features which can be easily seen by observers without trained botanical backgrounds. For some species features links to photographs exist (by clicking on blue marked text you can access these photos) 

Common conifer identification (by Nick Ledgard)
(using a minimum number of distinctive features)

Common name  Latin name  Tree habit  Needles Winter bud Cone Comments 
No per fascicle

long>60mm short<60mm

long>10mm short<10mm colour; reflexed scales large>70mm small<70mm Spike on scale
Radiata pine Pinus radiata erect 3 long  long brown large  no persistent branch cones
Ponderosa Pine Pinus ponderosa erect 3 long long whitish large  yes Cones shed annually
Corsican Pine Pinus nigra erect 2 long  long white/whitish  small  no Cones shed annually. No stalk on cone (cf. Scots pine)
Muricata Pine Pinus muricata erect 2 long long brown  large  long spike persistent branch cones, v. prickly
Maritime Pine Pinus pinaster erect 2 long long brown, scales reflexed large  broad spike stout needles, persistent branch cones
Lodgepole Pine Pinus contorta erect 2 short  long brown, often resinous  small  v.fine spike Cones often persistent on branches, best diagnostic feature is scale spike
Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris erect 2 short short brown, scales reflexed small  no Cones with short stalk, shed annually. Silvery appearance to foliage
Mountain Pine

Pinus uncinata

erect 2 short  short/long white (resin) small  no Cone scales can be very hooked
Dwarf Mountain Pine Pinus mugo many leaders 2 short short/long white (resin) small  no 10mm sheath on base of young needles
Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii erect 1 short in one plane short brown small  no Cones soft and hanging down, with obvious bracts longer than scales
European Larch Larix decidua erect 10+ short short NA small  no Deciduous. Cones soft, persistent


*   Don’t be too worried about the bud colour/ scale column.  There is considerable variation in bud colour, amount of resin and degree of reflex of scales.