Forest Types of Michigan: Mesic Conifers (E3202-10)

Mesic Conifers describes the composition, distribution and ecology of mesic conifer forests, and highlights management, forest health and wildlife habitat issues.

Mesic conifers are softwood/evergreen tree species that grow on well-drained, reasonably fertile soils. “Mesic” refers to the middle area in a moisture spectrum from dry (xeric) to wet (hydric). White pine and hemlock are the trees usually identified in discussions of mesic conifers, particularly in terms of long-lived species. Sometimes other conifers are included, such as cedar, short-lived balsam fir and black spruce. The northern hardwood forest, the most common forest type in Michigan, once had a greater component of these mesic conifers. These trees provide valuable winter shelter for many resident songbirds and are of special importance to mammals such as white-tailed deer and martens. Though they were once commercially important, neither white pine nor hemlock now carry high monetary value. For ecological and habitat purposes, however, there is an interest in reestablishing these trees where they are absent or reduced. Forest owners with a broad interest in wildlife habitat improvement will attempt to restore these trees in hardwood stands.

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