What are conifers?

Hello and welcome to our conifer nature study tutorial.

Throughout this course, we will learn all about conifers, including what they are, how they grow, fun conifer facts, and how to recognise our most common conifers. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

What are conifers?

Conifers are a type of tree. Specifically, they are cone-bearing, evergreen, needle-leaved trees. (Well, mostly!) Unlike deciduous trees, conifers have cones instead of flowers and needles instead of broad leaves and they hold on to their leaves all year round (although there are a few exceptions).

Where do conifers grow?

Conifers can be found on every continent on Earth, except Antarctica. From the Arctic tundra, to the Californian deserts and from the mountains of Persia to the Russian steppes and even in the tropical rainforests of South Asia, conifers are there, just waiting to be found.

How many species of conifer are there?

There are thought to be between 500-800 species of conifer, over a thousand cultivated varieties. Although they are scarcest here, the greatest variety of conifer species can be found in the warmer, tropical locations. In contrast, despite being far more abundant (in fact almost dominant) in colder locations, there are fewer species in these areas.

How long do conifers live?

It might surprise you to know that conifers are among the oldest living things on Earth. There is a strand of bristle cone pines in the Californian desert that are over 5,000 years old! 

How tall do conifers grow?

Just as they are among the oldest living things on Earth, conifers are also among the tallest. There are a strand of redwoods (again in California) that measure over 110 meters high! By contrast, there is a forest of pygmy conifers (also in California) that only reach 20 cm – even when fully grown.