A family of conifers (or, according to some authors, a tribe of the family Pinaceae). The leaves are spirally arranged (not in opposite pairs as in Cupressaceae) and the leaves are evergreen, hard, and scale-, spine-, or awl-like in most genera, though in a few (e.g. Metasequoia and Taxodium) they are soft and deciduous. The cones are globular and hard, with the bracts completely fused to the ovule-bearing scales (as in Cupressaceae but unlike Pinaceae). The family consists of 10 genera and only 13 species. It includes many ancient relict monotypic genera, like Sequoiadendron, Sequoia, Metasequoia, and Cryptomeria, all of which have an extremely limited distribution as natives today though formerly they were mostly very widespread (epibiontics). They are widely cultivated in many temperate regions; for example, Sequoiadendron giganteum (wellingtonia or big tree), once widespread in the world in Pliocene times, is now confined as a native to the Sierra Nevada of California.
Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry.