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Conifer Class

There are many ways to group or classify trees.

We can group them by size.

 

We can group them by age.

 

Size and age are two ways you could group these trees. Biologists and botanists classify and group by looking at other things, too. Let's take a look!

Where are the seeds???

Scales of a Cone

Trees that grow cones are in a group called conifers. The cones of the conifers are very important because they are the place where the tree makes and shelters its seeds.

Cones are made up of many scales. Scales are a kind of shelter for the seed. When it's time, the scales of the cone open and the seeds fall to the ground. Because the seeds sit on the scales and are not totally protected, conifer trees can also be grouped as gymnosperms. The word gymnosperm means naked seed.

Needles, Please

Another way to group trees is by the kind of leaves they have. Some trees have broad-leaves. Broad leaves have large surfaces so they can gather a lot of sunlight. A tree with flat, wide leaves also loses a lot of water because of evaporation.

There are other trees that have needle-like or scale-like leaves.



Maple trees have
broad leaves.

We often just say that they have needles. Needles are pretty amazing adaptations. They are long and thin. This shape slows down the evaporation of water so the tree doesn't lose as much. Because of this adaptation, trees with needles often don't need as much water and can grow in areas that other trees can't.
Many conifers have
needle-like leaves.

Evergreen and Deciduous

You can also group trees by how they lose their leaves. Many trees lose their leaves when the weather gets cool. On these

This conifer is an evergreen.

trees, the leaves fall to the ground all at once and grow back again when the weather gets warmer. Many trees with broad leaves do this. We call them deciduous trees.

Other trees have leaves or needles that fall off a little at a time. These types of trees are always growing new leaves. As the old ones fall off, they are replaced. We call these trees evergreens.

Trees that lose their leaves each fall are deciduous.
 

There are many ways to group trees. So what groups do REAL TREES fit into??? Good question!

REAL TREES have cones. That makes them both gymnosperms and conifers. They have needles instead of broad-leaves and they are evergreen! Whew!!!

Now you know!

adaptation:
the way a plant or animal becomes better able to live in its environment

biologist:
a scientist who studies living things

botanist:
a scientist who studies plants and plant life

cone:
the cone-shaped fruit of a conifer tree (pine, fir, spruce, etc.)

deciduous:
falling off at a particular time or season

evaporation:
to take moisture from leaving the dry portion; to change into a vapor


Evergreen trees are not really EVER green. The needles of coniferous trees don't stay on forever. As the needles become older, they drop off the tree to make room for new needles!


Check out this article from How Stuff Works.

How Christmas Trees Work


Fluffer Nutter Bagel Ornament

Spread marshmallow fluff and peanut butter on a bagel. Sprinkle with shelled seeds and raisins. Tie raffia through the bagel hole and hang.

Thanks to Linda Franz for this cool idea!


What other ways can you think of to group or classify trees?

Use this journal page to see how many ways you can come up with!

My Conifer Journal

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