Zanoni, Thomas A. Jardín Botánico Nacional, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; New York Botanical Garden, New York, New York.
Axsmith, Brian J. Department of Botany, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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An order of the plant class Pinopsida (Coniferopsida) within the division Pinophyta (Gymnospermae). All members of the Pinales, often termed conifers, are woody plants. They comprise trees or shrubs, and are often the principal trees of the forests worldwide. Pine, spruce, fir, hemlock, cedar, larch, juniper, cypress, yew, redwood, big tree, kauri, podocarpus, araucaria, and others are part of the Pinales order. The big tree (Sequoia gigantea) of California is the largest plant, reaching a height of 100 m (330 ft) and a diameter of 10 m (33 ft), and being more than 3500 years old. Leaves are usually needlelike or scalelike, with a few exceptions, such as Agathis (kauri), Podocarpus, Phyllocladus, and Araucaria [panel (a) of Fig. 1]. Most species are evergreen, bearing their leaves year-round. Modern conifers form some of the most extensive forests in modern times, mainly occurring in the temperate regions or mountainous regions of the subtropics. The families of extant conifers are Araucariaceae, Cupressaceae, Pinaceae, Podocarpaceae, Sciadopityaceae, and Taxaceae. The phylogenetic relations among these families are still debated. See also: Forest; Forestry; Pine; Pinophyta; Pinopsida; Plant kingdom; Tree
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