Some conifers can be recognised by their distinctive cones.  For others the cone tells you what group of closely-related conifers the tree belongs to.  For example, the cones of Pines look quite different from those of Cedars.  For these conifers you can go to a deeper level of identification by clicking on a  BUTTON, which is in the form of a name with a box round it e.g Pines, Spruces, Firs and Cypresses. Click on the names in red for a full description of a tree species.  Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Conifer tree ID by cone – shape, size, colour and position on the tree, six groups eg. Pines and Spruces, 12 species and links to more photos

Seed cones, like female flowers, receive pollen and develop seeds. The seed cones are usually woody to protect the developing seeds. The protection takes the form of scales which have distinctive colours and shapes and lock together.  The scales open up at an appropriate time to release the seeds. Note that Junipers and Yews have fleshy scales.


Scots Pine cone
Arolla Pine, Austrian Pine, Bhutan Pine, Bishop Pine, Corsican Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Monterey Pine, Scots Pine,    Stone Pine, Weymouth Pine
Norway Spruce Cone
Colorado Spruce, Norway Spruce, Oriental Spruce, Serbian Spruce, Sitka Spruce
Spanish Fir Cone
Caucasian Fir, European Silver Fir, Grand Fir, Noble Fir, Spanish Fir


Common Juniper Cone


Chinese Juniper, Common Juniper,

Common Yew, Irish Yew

Douglas Fir cone

Douglas Fir – note 3-pronged bract (circled) unique to this species