The allure of conifers…
There is a boom in the realm of conifer literature in recent years and this book is among the major contributions to "conifer science". The increasing interest towards conifers is nurtured by exciting new discoveries, the recognition of a greater need for their conservation, and their benefits and usage in many arenas of human life. And as stated in a personal note by the authors, "if botany is "scientia amabilis"—the "amiable science"—then, for us, the study of conifers is "scientia amabilissima"—the "most amiable science.""
Conifers include approximately 625–700 species worldwide and up to 1000 taxa including distinctive subspecies and varieties, compared with an estimated 250,000 species of flowering plants, but conifers are much more important to the world's landscape and ecology than their relatively small number of species might suggest. Conifers have their own unique appearance, especially when compared with broad-leaved trees. Enthusiasts and collectors around the world have provided a huge niche for them among cultivated plants, and the unparalleled beauty of many conifers—especially cypresses, cedars, firs, and spruces—enhances innumerable landscapes, both public and private. Anyone looking for something uncommon to complement a plant collection can choose from an extraordinary variety of conifers ranging from the magnificence of giant sequoias, cedars, and golden larches to the innumerable shapes and sizes of dwarf and slow-growing species and varieties. Conifers, nearly all of which are evergreen, also offer a delightfully refreshing contrast in a winter landscape. This is especially true in temperate zones, where deciduous trees usually prevail. By providing a spectacle throughout the year, conifers are notable compared with trees that spend half the year leafless.
Why conifers?... Driven by competition from broad-leaved trees into regions where there is little competing vegetation, in nature most conifers inhabit cold, dry, and austere places that are inhospitable to humankind: the endless taiga, vast expanses of high-mountain and subalpine forests, steep mountain cliffs, the periphery of deserts, and seemingly boundless marshlands. Because conifers generally occur in such unfavorable places, it is no surprise that they are often invoked as symbols of wild, primeval nature.
This book is a tribute to these beautiful plants. And the team that prepared this book pays tribute to all – the
Benefactor, the late Mr. Walter Hunnewell, as well as the great number of supporters, foundations, volunteers, field guides and many others – who helped to create it.
The showy conelets of Pinus jeffreyi documented in the botanical garden of the University of West Hungary, Sopron (previously called the University of Sylviculture).
Many species of Abies are especially good examples of the beautiful and perfect spiral order shown in their arrangement of leaves (needles) - like here in Abies pinsapo, photographed in a major dendrological living collection in Poland.
Pollen cones of Pinus nigra subsp. pallasiana, about ready to shed pollen, observed in the lower slopes of Mt. Spil near the city of Manisa, western Turkey.
Ovuliferous cones of Platycladus orientalis in receptive phase, the photo captured in a cultivated tree in Hungary.
The tiny (less than 3 mm) pollen cones of Platycladus orientalis just about ready to release pollen, in a tree cultivated in Hungary.
European Yew (Taxus baccata) is commonly cultivated in temperate regions. The pollen cones of a tree planted long ago in the town of Székesfehérvár, Hungary, has already started to release pollen in these mild winter days.
The native habitat of Picea omorika in the Drina river valley, Tara mountains, on the border region between Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, at around 900 m a.s.l. (photo by Gy Szollát, Hungary)
KOREAN STONE PINE, CHOSEN-MATSU, CHOSEN-GOYŌ
One of the most extensive habitats of Cupressus sempervirens: open stands of the cypress growing on arid slopes above the Köprü river in the Köprülü Canyon National Park, southwestern Asia Minor (Turkey). The pine associating with the cypress is Pinus brutia.