Description

Woody shrubs, climbers or trees, wood vesselless (instead they have transport cells called trachids), with resin. Sometimes with flattened, leaf like twigs (Phyllocladus).
Leaves simple, usually alternate and spiral, some groups with leaves in bundles (Pinus) or with opposite leaves (Agathis, Gnetum, Nageia), entire, often needle or scale like with parallel veins.
Flowers unisexual, often in cone-like structures, or female flowers simple (Podocarpaceae, Taxus).

General info

Distribution Worldwide, but mainly temperate and boreal. In the tropics usually at higher elevations. Only few genera common in tropical lowlands, like Agathis, Nageia, Gnetum, Podocarpus (all groups with leaf-shaped leaves).
Ecology Well adapted to cooler temperatures, but due to their less efficient photosynthesis they are outcompeted in the lowlands by the angiosperms. Pollination usually by wind, while seed dispersal may be by wind or birds.
Uses Timber, resin, turpentine, some ornamentals.
Similar to Casuarinaceae, but these have jointed twigs and true flowers.

Treated genera

  • Araucaria
  • Pinus
  • Podocarpus
  • Gnetum

Araucaria.jpg
Araucaria sp

PINUS.jpg
Pinus silvestris

Nageia_wallichiana.jpg
Podocarpus wallichiana

Gnetum_gnemon.jpg
Gnetum gnemon