All trees with needles have cones, and most trees with cones and needles are evergreens—but not all of them. Hundreds of species of trees with cones are found throughout the world, and these trees are known as conifers.
Conifers are trees that produce cones to protect their seeds. The cones have many scales to shelter the seeds. Eventually the scales open and the seeds fall to the ground, to grow where they fall, or to be carried away by wind, birds, squirrels or other small animals.
Conifers make up the division Pinophyta, also known as Coniferophyta and Coniferae. Some commonly recognized conifer species include cedar, fir, cypress, juniper, larch, pine, redwood, spruce and yew.
Each of these species has many different varieties, such as the pines ponderosa, white, red, jack, Austrian, longleaf, Scotch and numerous others.
Some conifers have short needles and some long, and some have flat leaves like scales. Cones may be tiny or large, and they can stand up, hang down or be attached along the entire length of the twig.
Most conifers are evergreen but some are deciduous, shedding their needles in the fall. Larches, dawn redwoods and bald cypresses are examples of deciduous trees with cones.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Micael Carlsson