Conifer Facts

  • Conifers are trees with needle-like, typically evergreen leaves that make their seeds not in flowers but in cones.
  • With gingkos and cycads they make up the group of plants called gymnosperms, all of which make their seeds in cones.
  • The world’s tallest tree, the redwood, is a conifer.
  • The world’s most massive tree, the giant sequoia, is a conifer.
  • One of the world’s oldest trees is the bristlecone pine of California and Nevada, almost 5000 years old.
  • The gnarled bristlecone pine appears dead, but can survive with just a few of its branches and roots left.
  • The world’s smallest trees are probably conifers including natural bonsai cypresses and shore pines which reach barely 20 cm when fully grown.
  • Many conifers are coneshaped, which helps them shed snow from their branches in winter.
  • The needle-like shape and waxy coating of the leaves helps the conifer to save water.
  • The needles of some pines can grow up to 30 cm long. But the biggest needles ever were those of the extinct Cordaites, over 1 m long and 15 cm wide.
  • Conifers grow over most of the world, but the biggest conifer forests are in places with cold winters, such as north Siberia, northern North America and on mountain slopes almost everywhere.