CONIFEROUS PLANTS

There are about 550 species of conifer, most of which are large, evergreen trees. Their leaves are often needle-shaped and usually have a thick, waxy coating that guards against water loss and freezing. Conifers produce their seeds on the woody scales of CONES, or in fleshy cups.

SCALES

Cypresses produce scalelike leaves which are evergreen and aromatic. All conifers produce fragrant resins.

DECIDUOUS NEEDLES

Larches are unusual because they are deciduous conifers. In the autumn, they shed their needlelike leaves.

FLATTENED NEEDLES

Yews, firs, and some redwoods have small, flat leaves that grow on opposite sides of the stems.

CONES

The reproductive parts of coniferous plants are contained in cones. Most cones are woody, but some, such as those on yew trees, are soft and look like berries. The cones of pine and spruce trees usually fall to the ground in one piece, but the cones of cedars and most fir trees break up while still on the tree.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley