Non flowering trees are gymnosperms. They reproduce from seeds that grow within cones, like pine cones, or a fruit rather than from flowers. There are four types of gymnosperms, each with their own specific characteristics and growth habits. Some trees included in these groups are quite common, while others are rather uncommon and even considered endangered.
Conifers reproduce from seeds that are formed in cones. Some common conifers are cedars, firs, pines, larches, junipers and yews. There are 630 living species of conifers. They grow primarily in the northern hemisphere but can also be found growing in some cooler areas of the southern hemisphere. They are considered a softwood tree and are harvested for timber and to make paper.
Ginkgo trees are also referred to as maidenhair trees. They produce small fruit that contains 1 seed per fruit. They reportedly grow wild in two locations in China. There is suspicion, however, that the ginkgo trees growing in these locations are not entirely wild and have flourished with the aid of some human intervention. These trees grow to over 80 feet tall and have unusual fan-shaped leaves that turn yellow in the fall. The seeds or kernels may be eaten and are harvested, processed and sold as a type of nut. Ginkgo extract is used as an herbal remedy.
Cycads are also commonly referred to as palms or ferns, but they are not actually palms or ferns. They are a completely separate type of plant that reproduces through seed-bearing cones. There are 289 known species of cycads that grow primarily in the tropics and subtropics. They can be found growing in the Caribbean, eastern India, China, Japan and Australia. There are some species that little is known about and there are likely others that have not been discovered because they grow in confined unexplored tropical areas and islands. Most types of cycads are considered threatened or endangered in their natural habitat.
Gnetum gnemon is commonly called buko, joint fir, two leaf, belinjo or melingo in Indonesian, gnemon in Malay, peesae in Thai, Sikau or sukau in Fiji and tulip in Papua New Guinea. The Gnetum gnemon reproduces through seed bearing cones. There are three families of gnetophytes but gnetum gnemon is the only one that is a tree. The other two are vines. Gnetum is an evergreen tree that grows to between 25 and 50 feet tall with 5 to 10 inch long oval shaped leaves. It grows naturally in lowland rainforests in Southeast Asia and on western Pacific islands. Gnetum gnemon is easily grown from seed and is utilized extensively for lumber, fire wood and paper. The fibers located just beneath the bark on the branches are used to make cords for drawstring bags and even strings for bows used to play musical instruments. It is also used to make fishing line and nets.
- Photo Credit Fir cones image by wildman from Fotolia.com
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