A coast redwood tree cone —one of the smallest cones, native the tallest tree. You can see just how the scales space fused together producing a spiral pattern in the cone. Photo by Finch, Flickr an imaginative Commons

During a recent hike in the Berkeley hills through a friend, the object of cones come up. There is an activity I prefer to do with students come teach them around cones: I carry in a small redwood cone and also a big sugar pine tree cone and also ask the students i beg your pardon one originates from the tallest tree in the world. Inevitably, castle think the large sugar pine cone; this is a small trick in the education and learning world however definitely one attention-getter.

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So on mine hike, I started thinking… exactly how much do I yes, really know about cones and also their function? What are few of the tallest conifers and what space the sizes of their cones?

The cone hold the reproductive structures (the seeds) of a tree. A conifer (a cone-bearing tree) will have actually both male and female cones. The big, woody cone frameworks we generally see are the mrs cones, whereas the male cones space usually tiny and inconspicuous. The masculine cones save on computer pollen, i beg your pardon is offered to fertilize the ovules of the woman cone, which then eventually end up being seeds. When the male cone publication its pollen, it often drops to the ground. After gift fertilized, the woman cone starts to grow and can selection in dimension from a quarter of an inch to practically two feet.

The seeds space tightly hosted inside the cone until they room mature and also ready to be released. In ~ that point the cone alters color from environment-friendly to brown, the scales begin to open and also the seeds space released. Some cones will actually remain closed till they reach a particular temperature —such as throughout a woodland fire — climate they release their seeds onto fresh, affluent soil.

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Seeds are generally dispersed in among two ways, one of two people by wind or animals. Wind-dispersed seeds usually have winglike structures that enable them come be brought over part distance. Seeds dispersed by animals are commonly larger and also do not have wings. Learn about how giant sequoia seeds are distributed in my blog, The mystery of the Long-Horned Beetle.

The cone the a street pine, among the largest cones produced. This scales are flat and overlap every other, common to members that the pine family. Picture by clare_and_ben, Flickr creative Commons

Different family members of trees create different species of cones. Members of the pine family (pine, spruce, fir and also cedar) have actually cones with overlapping scales. Members of the cypress family (cypress, juniper and redwoods) have actually scales which are fully fused. To be even an ext different, part yews and also junipers actually have actually fleshy coverings over their seeds which look more like a little fruit 보다 a cone.

Cones have had actually multiple uses, specifically in arts and crafts. Castle are used as table decorations, wreaths, bird feeders, fire starters and more. Perhaps many notable is the use of the juniper seed to make gin.

The redwood forest is a fascinating location (did you recognize there’s a salamander that rattles?). Learn more!