Conifer, one of a large group of trees and shrubs including members of the pine and yew families. There are about 550 species of conifers, found mostly in temperate parts of the world. The name means "cone-bearing," and most of the species bear cones with scales. The juniper and yew, however, bear fleshy cones, which resemble berries. Most conifers are evergreen; that is, they retain their leaves over the winter. A few cone-bearersthe larch and bald cypress, for exampleare not evergreen. In many gardening books, the terms conifer and evergreen mean virtually the same thing. However, many evergreen trees are not conifers.

The cones are the seed-producing parts of the tree. Small pollen cones produce pollen that is carried by the wind to the buds of seed cones, causing them to develop into large cones with seeds. The full-grown seeds drop from the cones. Most species bear pollen and seed cones on the same tree.

Pine conesPine cones are the seed-producing parts of the tree.