|Photo by Carol King|
Spruce trees are getting a lot of attention this fall. Their inner needles are turning yellow or brown and dropping off. To put your mind at ease, it’s not unusual for these conifers to shed interior needles beginning in late summer and continuing well into fall. This is normal evergreen behavior.
In fact, all conifers (“evergreens”) including spruce, pine, fir, juniper and arborvitae lose their oldest needles every year. Contrary to what the name implies, “evergreens” are not really green forever. Their needles generally have a 2–4 year life span, although spruce trees live about 5-7 years.
While needle loss occurs every year, the process is usually gradual, over a period of several weeks or even months, depending on species and weather. It’s so gradual, that you might not even notice the needle drop. Some species can shed needles in a fairly short period of time, making it look as though they’re in serious trouble. And environmental problems, like drought, can make needle drop happen more quickly than it would if the tree was healthier.