The biggest division of gymnosperms, with a long fossil history, comprising trees and shrubs, nearly all of which are evergreen, commonly with monopodial crowns. Most are resinous. The wood lacks vessels (see trachea and vessel element). Conifers are extremely important for timber and paper production. The leaves are often needle- or scale-like. Fertile parts occur in unisexual cones, variously containing sterile scales. Stamens are borne on commonly peltate scales. The ovule and seed are naked and borne on a scale. They first appear as fossils in Carboniferous rocks. There are about 550 extant species.
Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry.