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.
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An order of the class Pinopsida (=Coniferopsida), of the division Pinophyta (Gymnospermae), with about 50 genera and 600 species still living. All are woody plants, as shrubs or trees, 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 all part of this order. The big tree (Sequoia gigantea) of California is the largest plant, reaching a height of 330 ft (100 m) and a diameter of 33 ft (10 m), and being over 3500 years old. Leaves are usually needlelike or scalelike, with a few exceptions such as Agathis (kauri), Podocarpus, Phyllocladus, and Araucaria (Fig. 1a). Most species are evergreen, bearing their leaves year-round. Modern conifers form some of the most extensive forests in recent times, mainly occurring in the temperate regions or mountainous regions of the subtropics. The families of extant conifers are Araucariaceae, Pinaceae, Taxodiaceae, Cupressaceae, Podocarpaceae, Taxaceae, and Cephalotaxaceae. The phylogenetic relations among these families are practically unknown.
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