Snowfield Peak 8648s.JPG
Conifer forests, though comprising few species, cover vast areas, as in this forest in the Cascade Range of western North America.
Scientific classification e
Orders and families
  • Coniferophyta
  • Coniferae

The Pinophyta, also known as Coniferophyta or Coniferae, or commonly as conifers, are a division of vascular land plants containing a single extant class, Pinopsida. They are gymnosperms, cone-bearing seed plants. All extant conifers are perennial woody plants with secondary growth. The great majority are trees, though a few are shrubs. Examples include cedars, Douglas firs, cypresses, firs, junipers, kauri, larches, pines, hemlocks, redwoods, spruces, and yews.[1] As of 1998, the division Pinophyta was estimated to contain eight families, 68 genera, and 629 living species.[citation needed][2]

Although the total number of species is relatively small, conifers are ecologically important. They are the dominant plants over large areas of land, most notably the taiga of the Northern Hemisphere,[1] but also in similar cool climates in mountains further south. Boreal conifers have many wintertime adaptations. The narrow conical shape of northern conifers, and their downward-drooping limbs, help them shed snow. Many of them seasonally alter their biochemistry to make them more resistant to freezing. While tropical rainforests have more biodiversity and turnover, the immense conifer forests of the world represent the largest terrestrial carbon sink. Conifers are of great economic value for softwood lumber and paper production.[1]


The narrow conical shape of northern conifers, and their downward-drooping limbs, help them shed snow.

The earliest conifers in the fossil record date to the late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) period (about 300 million years ago),[3] possibly arising from Cordaites, a genus of seed-bearing Gondwanan plants with cone-like fertile structures. Pinophytes, Cycadophytes, and Ginkgophytes all developed at this time.[3] An important adaptation of these gymnosperms was allowing plants to live without being so dependent on water. Other adaptations are pollen (so fertilisation can occur without water) and the seed, which allows the embryo to be transported and developed elsewhere.[3]

Conifers appear to be one of the taxa that benefited from the Permian–Triassic extinction event, and were the dominant land plants of the Mesozoic era. They were overtaken by the flowering plants, which first appeared in the Cretaceous, and became dominant in the Cenozoic era. Conifers were the main food of herbivorous dinosaurs, and their resins and poisons would have given protection against herbivores. Reproductive features of modern conifers had evolved by the end of the Mesozoic era.[4]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Naaldboom
العربية: المخروطيات
asturianu: Pinidae
беларуская: Хвойныя
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Хвойныя
čeština: Jehličnany
Deutsch: Nadelholz
Ελληνικά: Κωνοφόρα
español: Pinidae
Esperanto: Pinofitoj
euskara: Pinofito
فارسی: مخروطیان
français: Pinophyta
Frysk: Konifearen
Gaeilge: Cónaiféar
Gaelg: Bearkanagh
galego: Coníferas
한국어: 구과식물
հայերեն: Մերկասերմեր
हिन्दी: कोणधारी
hrvatski: Četinjače
Bahasa Indonesia: Tumbuhan runjung
interlingua: Pinophyta
íslenska: Barrtré
italiano: Pinophyta
עברית: מחטנאים
ქართული: წიწვოვნები
Latina: Pinophyta
latviešu: Skujkoku klase
lietuvių: Pušūnai
Lingua Franca Nova: Conifer
lumbaart: Cunifer
magyar: Toboztermők
македонски: Четинари
മലയാളം: കോണിഫർ
日本語: 球果植物門
occitan: Pinophyta
олык марий: Иман кушкыл
پنجابی: کھنگرے
Piemontèis: Conìfera
polski: Iglaste
português: Conífera
română: Pinophyta
Runa Simi: Akwayuq
русский: Хвойные
Scots: Pinophyta
Simple English: Conifer
slovenčina: Borovicorasty
slovenščina: Iglavci
српски / srpski: Четинари
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Četinari
suomi: Havupuut
svenska: Barrväxter
Tagalog: Pinophyta
татарча/tatarça: Ылыслылар
українська: Хвойні
Tiếng Việt: Ngành Thông
Võro: Nõglapuuq
West-Vlams: Koniefeern
Winaray: Pinophyta
吴语: 松柏门
žemaitėška: Spīglėnē augalā
中文: 松柏門