conifer in the alps

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Pinaceae (the pine family) are trees or shrubs, including many of the well-known conifers of commercial importance such as cedars, firs, hemlocks, larches, pines and spruces. The family is included in the order Pinales, formerly known as Coniferales. Pinaceae are the largest extant conifer family in species diversity, with between 220-250 species in 11 genera, and the second-largest in geographical range, found in most of the Northern Hemisphere with the majority of the species in temperate climates but ranging from sub arctic to tropical. The family often forms the dominant component of boreal, coastal and montane forests. One species just crosses the equator in southeast Asia. Major centres of diversity are found in the mountains of southwest China, Mexico, central Japan and California.

They are trees growing from 2 to 100 m tall, mostly evergreen, resinous, monoecious, with subopposite or whorled branches, and spirally arranged, linear leaves. The female cones are large and usually woody, 2-60 cm long, with numerous spirally-arranged scales, and two winged seeds on each scale. The male cones are small, 0.5-6 cm long, and fall soon after pollination; pollen dispersal is by wind. Seed dispersal is mostly by wind, but some species have large seeds with reduced wings, and are dispersed by birds. Variation in cone size in the family has likely resulted from the variation of seed dispersal mechanisms available in the environment over time. Pinaceae that persist in areas where tree squirrels are abundant do not seem to have evolved adaptations for bird dispersal. The embryos of Pinaceae are multi-cotyledonous, with 3-24 cotyledons.

Source: - 06.07.2011

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