Coniferous forests are filled with cone-bearing trees. Pine trees, for example, have pinecones. Cone-bearing trees are also found sometimes in “mixed forests” with other trees. But in cold climates and at high altitudes, only these evergreen trees can survive the harsh, cold winters.
What do cones do? They let the tree reproduce. Some cones release pollen. The wind carries the pollen away. If the pollen lands on a seed cone, it produces a sperm cell. When sperm joins with an egg cell inside the seed cone, a new plant grows.
Most cone-bearing trees are evergreens. They keep their smooth, waxy needle leaves year round. Needles hold water in very well. This especially helps during winter, when water in the ground may freeze.
While evergreen trees stay green year round, some of their needles do fall as trees grow or die. Thus, dry, brown needles often cover the floor of a coniferous forest, providing a home for insects.