A plant's reproductive organs typically are found in the flowering part of the plant. However, some plants and trees, known as gymnosperms, do not have flowers and bear their seeds in cones, according to the University of the Western Cape. Although most tree cones come from coniferous trees, cones are also produced by other plants that have been around much longer than their more well-known cousins.
Pine tree cones are those that many people think of when they think of tree cones. Conifers, commonly referred to as pine trees, are the most common and widely studied type of gymnosperm, according to the University of Cincinnati. This group include such trees pines, firs, redwoods and yews, and can be found all around the world, often in temperate and colder, drier areas. Pine trees have both male and female cones, each of which is a kind of modified branch, according to the University of Cincinnati. Male cones are often found at the tips of low branches, while female cones typically grow at the higher branches.
Cycads are an old group of plants, with only a few species still existing today. These plants are known to have existed all the way back to the Permian era, more than 200 million years ago, according to the Royal Botanic Gardens, in Sydney, Australia. Although the cycad was widespread during the Jurassic period, today there are only about 250 species of these plants, found mainly in tropical and subtropical areas. These plants have leaves that appear similar to palm leaves, but instead of producing coconuts or other types of seeds, they produce a large cone in the centre of the tree.
Another primitive type of gymnosperm, the ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) is regarded as a living fossil. The Ginkgo biloba is the only living species of this group that also dates back to the age of the Permian era, according to the University of California at Berkley. This tree has fan-shaped leaves and is widely used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Female trees of this species make cone-like fruits, while male trees do not. These trees originated in tropical and subtropical areas but now can be found around the world in temperate climates.
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