Modern conifers are characterised by having male pollen-producing and female seed-producing cones. They are totally reliant on wind to move the pollen from the male to the female. The type of scaly female cone produced can vary widely between the different families. Some have familiar woody pine cones, while others, like the yew, have single, scaled, berry-like, red cones. Male cones, on the other hand, are all small and very similar. The modern conifer order contains eight families and over 600 species, including pines, cypress, firs and yew. Their leaves are mostly needle-shaped and scale-like. They are found everywhere except for the driest deserts and highest mountains.
Scientific name: Pinales
The following habitats are found across the Modern conifers distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.
The order Pinales in the division Pinophyta, class Pinopsida comprises all the extant conifers. This order was formerly known as the Coniferales.
The distinguishing characteristic is the reproductive structure known as a cone produced by all Pinales. All of the extant conifers, such as cedar, celery-pine, cypress, fir, juniper, larch, pine, redwood, spruce, and yew are included here. Some fossil conifers, however, belong to other distinct orders within the division Pinophyta.
The yews have previously been separated into a distinct order of their own (Taxales), but genetic evidence indicates yews are monophyletic with other conifers and they are now included in the Pinales. However, the evidence for these facts is vague, therefore it was probably a controversy over time.
The families included are Araucariaceae, Cephalotaxaceae, Cupressaceae, Pinaceae, Podocarpaceae, Sciadopityaceae, and Taxaceae.
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