Conifers are evergreens with needle like leaves or narrow leaves. Conifers grow abundantly in broad band of evergreen forest that spans northern Eurasia and North America. Farther South also they find similar conditions on mountain slopes and form broad forests. Cedars, cypresses, firs, kauri, redwoods, pines, junipers and spruces are examples of conifers.
Like maples, oaks and other broad-leaved trees, all the conifers shed their foliage periodically. But most conifers do not shed their needles at the same time and so they remain green all year round. Conifers contribute so much to our way of life compared to every other tree.
Conifers are highly useful in everyday life. They constitute about 75% of all the timber that is cut and their uses range from building construction to furniture, fence posts, pencils, plywood and veneers. Most of the papers are made from conifers. The cellulose used in the manufacture of cellophane and rayon also comes from conifers. Turpentine, resin and various tars are among the many other products derived from conifers.
Conifers have very good commercial value. Hence they are grown in scientifically managed forests and large scale plantations in many parts of the world. Trees like pine in Australia which is the fastest growing timber tree, Short leaf pine of southern US, western hemlock of North America and many others are major sources of paper pulp, turpentine and tannic acid used for tanning leather. Another giant among the conifers is the Douglas fir of the western US which reaches height of about 250 feet under ideal conditions. Redwood trees of California known to be the world’s tallest tree are also conifers.
Apart from its important uses, conifers enrich the place they live in by their sheer beauty. Conifers account for the special qualities of some of the most famous forests in the world, from the dark beauty of the Black Forest in West Germany to the awesome splendor of California’s redwood groves.