Preposterosus towerus var. pseudopinus
Silly false pine
This tree is an escaped cultivar in North America, considered by many botanists to be an invasive species, both here an in many other areas of the world. These trees may be descended from artificial Christmas trees, but this is unverified, as the trees are unusually resistant to DNA sequencing.
Identification: These evergreen trees are erect and narrow, reaching 60-100' (18-30 m). Bark is gunmetal gray, extremely hard, and smooth. Conifer-like branches form a narrow, conical crown. Vertically oriented gray fruits, 24-36" (60-91 cm) high and 2-3" (5-7.6 cm) in diameter, extend past the branches, on branchicles (branch-like structures). These fruits have never been examined by botanists because they do not fall from the tree. Flowers have never been observed, and attempts to locate younger trees have not been successful.
Edibility: Poisonous Even approaching these trees too closely can cause illness. People with a highly refined aesthetic sense are said to be exceptionally vulnerable. Authorities in some areas put up warning signs or even fences to prevent approach.
Preposterosus towerus var. pseudopinus description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.