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Gymnosperms

Gymnosperms are plants that have seeds but no flowers. The seeds of these plants are on cones or in cups. Most gymnosperms are evergreen. Gymnosperms include conifers, cycads and the ginkgo.
   Conifers
white spruce Conifers like the spruce, cedar and pine tree are gymnosperms and have seeds on cones. Most coniferous trees are evergreen and are specially adapted to survive in areas with lots of snow. Many are cone-shaped to help snow slide off them so the branches won't break. The leaves or needles of coniferous trees lose less water than other kinds of leaves. This also helps them survive. There are about 600 species of conifers.
   Seed in a Cup
english yewThe yew tree is a conifer that has its seed in a cup. The seed of the yew is in a red berry-like cup called an aril. The yew has long, straight, flat needles. The seeds of the yew can be toxic. Some birds will eat the aril and leave the seed. The wood of the English yew was once used to make longbows!



  Cycads
zululand cycadCycads were common plants about 250 million years ago. Today there are about 150 species of cycads. They grow in the tropics and subtropics. Cycads look like palms, but they aren't.

  Ginkgophytes
white spruceThere used to be lots of these gymnosperms. Today there is only one species left, the ginkgo biloba. It is native to China, but it has been transplanted and cultivated in other areas. It is thought to be extinct in the wild. The ginkgo biloba has large fan-like leaves that fall off in the winter.


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