All trees must adapt to survive winter. The group of trees known as conifers have their own adaptations for cold, harsh conditions. These adaptations helped make conifers the most populous species of tree in the world.
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Conifers developed needle-like leaves that allow the trees to survive in freezing conditions. The shape and waxy texture of the leaves do not allow snow to accumulate on the tree, maintaining a low weight load and keeping stress off the branches. The waxy coating, called cutin, also limits water loss.
Conifers developed a method of protection from harsh weather called extracellular freezing. Some liquids in the tree move through empty spaces and freeze on the outside to insulate inner cells.
Conifer means "to bear cones," in Latin. However, there are two kinds of conifers, junipers and yews, which bear fruit instead.
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