Sexing Pine Cones
Name: Cody S.
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!
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
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Update: June 2012