Seed‐bearing plants are divided into two major groups: the flowering plants, or angiosperms, and a more ancient lineage, the gymnosperms. The largest and most widespread group within the gymnosperms is the conifers, which are present worldwide and play important ecological and economic roles in some regions.

Keywords: gymnosperms; plant evolution; seed plants

Figure 1.

A dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in autumn, showing the colour change and foliage loss typical of deciduous trees late in the growing season. Most conifers are evergreen, but some species are deciduous. The single dominant stem and overall pyramidal shape are typical of many conifers.


Further Reading

Biswas C and Johri BM (1997) The Gymnosperms. Berlin: Springer‐Verlag.

Dallimore W, Jackson AB and Harrison SG (1967) Handbook of Coniferae and Ginkgoaceae. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Judd WS, Campbell CS, Kellogg EA, Stevens PF and Donoghue MJ (2002) Plant Systematics A Phylogenetic Approach, 2nd edn. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.

Rushforth K (1987) Conifers. New York: Facts On File Publications.

Willis KJ and McElwain JC (2002) The Evolution of Plants. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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How to Cite close
Whetten, Ross W(Sep 2005) Conifers. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003693]