conifer (kŏnˈĭfûr) [key] [Lat., = cone-bearing], tree or shrub of the order Coniferales, e.g., the pine, monkey-puzzle tree, cypress, and sequoia. Most conifers bear cones and most are evergreens, though a few, such as the larch, are deciduous. Conifers are widely distributed over the world but are mostly found in the highlands of temperate regions. The conifers, the ginkgoes, and the cycads comprise the three most important groups of gymnosperms, i.e., plants without true flowers. Conifers are classified in the division Pinophyta, class Pinopsida.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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