March 14th is Pi Day!
And to celebrate we are going to honor the Pinophyta Division (conifers) of the Plant Kingdom, specifically, trees with botanical names that begin with “Pi” ~ like Picea and Pinus.
Pinophytes are gymnosperms (seed-producing plants) that include conifers. The Latin word Coniferae means cone-bearing, or fruit-bearing of a conical shape. Conifers in the Pinophyta Division consist of cedar, fir, juniper, redwood, hemlock, spruce, yew, and pine, to name a few. Coniferous trees can be found on every continent in the world, except Antarctica (where they thrived during the Cretaceous period).
Conifers are evergreen and highly adaptable to very cold climates. Their needles “harden off” before winter temperatures plunge, making them resistant to freezing snow and ice. Their symmetrically-tapered shape and downward-sloping limbs allow them to shed snow in winter so that their branches do not break under the weight of accumulated snow. Isn’t it ironic that conifers no longer exist on Antarctica?
Pinophytes do not flower. Rather, conifers produce both male and female cones on the same tree. The female cone (ovulate cone) contains ovules which are fertilized by pollen-bearing cones (the males). Pollen is transferred to the female cone by wind and insect movement in the spring. While the pollen grains develop into seeds, the scales on the cone remain tightly closed to protect the maturing seeds. Once the seeds have matured, the scales on the cone begin to open and seeds fall to the ground, or are carried off by wind and insects. March 14th is just days before spring…the perfect time to celebrate Pinophytes.
Pictured above: a few “Pi” trees and their cones. Pinus and Picea are both classified in the Pinophyta Division of the Plant Kingdom.
Happy Pi Day! Celebrating the day with Pinophytes.