Still in archives.

Inspired by Gary’s Life in Photos, I dug out this shot of a cone from somewhere in the Sierras…..  (I remember being corrected by my late husband when referring to a cone that didn’t come from a pine as a “pine-cone”. Just another logger showing off how much more he knew about the woods than a greenhorn like me! 😉 That didn’t take a whole lot!)

I loved this post because it created quite a bit of discussion. First, there was the question of whether it wasn’t actually a flower from Newsferret, which sent me down a trail of discovery. Gary’s comment started the explanation, then this morning my plant expert, Moriah, added this:

“That is a cone, but it’s the male pollen cone.
 The typical “pine cone” is the female structure.

Going back ridiculously far in memory.  Pine trees are gymnosperms and
flowering plants are angiosperm.”


“But it was Aldo’s pen that became his most forceful tool. He started a newsletter for rangers called the Carson Pine Cone. Aldo used it to “scatter seeds of knowledge, encouragement, and enthusiasm.” Most of the Pine Cone’s articles, poems, jokes, editorials, and drawings were Aldo’s own. His readers soon realized that the forest animals were as important to him as the trees. His goal was to bring back the “flavor of the wilds.”
― Marybeth LorbieckiThings Natural, Wild, and Free: The Life of Aldo Leopold


28 thoughts on “cones

  1. Cool! We have a Scots Pine in our garden but I have never noticed these. Mind you, it is a very old and VERY tall pine and the crown is well beyond inspection level, even for a giant.


    • When I googled the Scots Pine for images, it showed these as being yellow. I never did find this rather unique pink variation, or perhaps it’s a stage it goes through. All I knew then was that it was very cool looking, so I shot the snap. Since then the comments here have added quite a bit to my understanding. I love it when that happens!


    • See Gary’s comment just a few ticks down from this one. He nailed it and reminded me of the circumstances when and where I took it! I tried to google, but was unsuccessful at finding the right search terms.


  2. Most conifers, maybe all, I don’t know for sure, have pollen releasing parts and pollen collecting parts. Your photo is of the releasing parts, the seed carrying cone catches the pollen. I’m way out of my field here but I think that is how it goes. What I can say for sure is this is a cool photo and I’m grinning to think I may have encouraged its posting. Thank you Gunta.


    • Your explanation makes a lot of sense. I think you just helped me remember where I took it. Not in the Sierras, but in the backyard of our previous house here in Oregon. What jogged my memory was the copious amounts of pollen a certain row of trees used to scatter all over the place, at times looking like smoke. My allergies used to flare like crazy. I’m so glad you liked my photo inspired by your cone! You are so very welcome, Gary.


      • Thanks to the jog you gave my memory, I remembered the tree was a Scots pine and was able to verify (and expand a bit) what you said:
        “Scots pines shed their pollen in May in copious amounts. The male pollen-producing flowers are located at the base of new shoots. The female cones grow at the tips of stronger new shoots and, once fertilised, ripen after two years. The needles are not shed each year but remain on the tree for two or even three years. Their waxy coating protects against excessive water-loss and the needles have fewer pores than the leaves of deciduous trees.”
        [Excerpt from

        Copious amounts indeed. So, we’re back to calling it a flower which produces pollen for the cones. Interesting.


    • Well, now you’ve got me thinking about what the actual distinction is between a cone or a flower. It does rather resemble a flower, but then how come a certain type of tree is referred to as a conifer. I might have to google into that one.


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