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Name: Cody S.
Status: student
Age: 11
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2002

How do you tell the difference between male and female pine cones?


The best way to understand this is to envision the normal role of the sexes. The males usually fertilized an egg or ovum and then the female bears the young until birth. (Note that there are a lot of variations on this theme :) ).

Having said the above, you can picture the role of the male cones as providing for fertilization by, in this case pollen. If you ask yourself how are the seeds of a pine borne, you will realize it is inside the normally hard shelled pine cone which happens to be female. Since young are not usually borne by the male of a species, you would guess correctly that the seeds are borne by the female structure (cone) and the seeds are the result of fertilization by pollen from the male structure (cone). In my experience, the male cones are typically smaller, less thick, and are displayed by the tree in a way to provide for good pollen dispersal. If you find what you suspect are male cones in the spring, you can shake the branch bearing them and you will see a cloud of pollen emanating from the cones. When the usually hard female cones open (typically) you will find seeds borne on the cone bracts.

Thanks for using NEWTON!

Ric Rupnik

NEWTON has some infomration in its archives:


The large familiar pine cones are female, and produce seeds at the base of the scales. Male cones are small and are in a group or small cluster, and produce pollen.

J. Elliott

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