Coniferous trees have small, waxy and usually narrow leaves (needles or flat scales). 'Coniferous' means that it is a cone-bearing tree. The most common conifers are spruces, pines and firs. Alternative names used for coniferous trees are evergreens, softwoods and (appropriately enough) conifers. However, the name evergreen is not really a good synonym. Laurel, acacia and eucalyptus are also evergreens, and although not deciduous, they are not cone-bearing trees (they also definitely have leaves rather than needles).
Interesting Coniferous Trees Facts
- Coniferous trees identification is done based on the leaves and cone. For example; pines and cedars have needle shaped leaves, whereas scale like leaves are borne on matured cypress trees.
- Majority of the coniferous trees are evergreen, meaning they retain their green foliage throughout the year. While a very few species (e.g. tamarack and bald cypress) shed their leaves annually (deciduous habit).
- Coniferous trees are very diverse in their growth habit. There are coniferous shrubs as well, but the number of trees is higher than that of shrubs and bushes. The tallest tree species, redwood (about 300 feet tall and 8 feet spread) belongs to conifers.
- As mentioned already, the reproductive structure of conifers is cone. Pollination in coniferous trees is of anemophilous type, wherein wind transfers the pollens from male cone to the female cone for fertilization.
Coniferous Trees Types
Coming to types of coniferous trees, there are eight families under Pinophyta. In total, more than 600 species of conifers are identified to date. The reduced leaf structure is one character shared by each of the coniferous trees. This serves as an adaptive feature for surviving in the cold climatic conditions. Leaves may be retained for as long as 15 years, depending upon the species. Mentioned below are some common coniferous trees:
The pine family consists of more than 100 species. Four types of leaves are borne in pine trees, viz. seed leaves, juvenile leaves, scale leaves and needle leaves. These conifers are long lived, some of which are known to survive for more than 1000 years.