I learned a while ago now that despite the vital importance of classification, the classifications we make can be very arbitrary when it comes to the real, natural world. There is always some rebel who wants to be neither a mammal nor a bird, or who wants to be the fish that gives live birth, etc. I love when nature shakes its fists at our attempts to classify it! Today I learned of another example of this.
I have always been fond of this tree on Houston street in Manhattan. I took this picture yesterday to send to my mom:
It looks like a conifer, and even has needles like a pine, though they're softer and drape gently. Here is a close up of a sapling of the same species that was planted on my block:
But the needles turn orange in autumn and it loses it's foliage in winter like a deciduous tree. I sent these pictures to my mom because I thought it was interesting, and she researched it and discovered that there are a handful of species of deciduous conifers. I think this is cool!