What is a conifer? A dictionary will tell you the obvious: A conifer is a tree or shrub bearing cones. There are always exceptions, but this definition will work in most cases. Conifers are easy to identify, but so many conifers look alike that it is often difficult to identify the different species. The cones can be a useful way to identify each species. Many conifers drop their cones on the ground after dispersing the seeds. Some keep them on the tree for an extended time.
Cones of common conifers in Northwest Oregon
|Shore pine (lodgepole pine)|
Like juniper cones, Pacific yew cones don't look like cones at all. They have a single seed surrounded by a single sweet, fleshy scale. Also like juniper cones, birds distribute the seeds. Yew cones are usually called arils.