#bioPGH Blog: Conifers
Dec 23

#bioPGH Blog: Conifers

By Lorren Kezmoh, Outreach Coordinator, Phipps Science Education and Research

Biophilia NetworkA resource of Biophilia: Pittsburgh, #bioPGH is a weekly blog and social media series that aims to encourage both children and adults to reconnect with nature and enjoy what each of our distinctive seasons has to offer. From the best times to plant seasonal flora and enjoy their peak blooms, to astronomical events and creatures to keep an eye and ear out for, Phipps will keep you in the know with what’s going on in our environment!

You may have noticed an increased amount of pines across the city this month as many local parking lots and retailers have stocked up on the season’s most popular evergreen, the conifer! Conifers encompass approximately 600 living species, one of which just happens to be this month’s most popular species of tree, the pine tree. Did you know that conifers have been documented in the fossil record as far back as the late Carboniferous period, also known as the Pennsylvania period, which occurred over 300 million years ago? These slow-growing trees are a common sight in cooler climates around the world and are also the largest, most widespread, and most economically important group of gymnosperms, or nonflowering seed plants. In fact, many cold-climate conifers undergo a process called “hardening,” which allows them to become freeze-resistant by altering their cellular biology. Did you know that the expanses of conifers around the world also make up one of the earth’s largest carbon sinks? This means that these trees capture and remove a large portion of carbon dioxide (C02) from our atmosphere! 

Connecting to the Outdoors Tip: Need a last minute gift for the holidays? Consider gifting one of the “Tree-to-Be” kits from Uncommon Goods. Not only will your gift last the test of time and provide friends and family with natural beauty to enjoy for several years, but it will also help give back to the environment. Since Pennsylvania is home to several coniferous forests, also consider spending some time outside this holiday weekend enjoying one of nature’s eldest greenspaces. You can also get creative with conifer cones by crafting a pinecone birdfeeder for your local flying fauna or a customized, miniature decorated pine tree for your friends and family. However you’re spending your holiday, we here at Phipps wish you all a happy one!

Continue the Conversation: Share your nature discoveries with our community by posting to Twitter and Instagram with hashtag #bioPGH, and R.S.V.P. to attend our next Biophilia: Pittsburgh meeting.

Additional Resources:
Conifers - Encyclopedia.com
What is a Carbon Sink? - LiveScience
Tree-to-Be Kits - Uncommon Goods 
Homemade Pine Cone Bird Feeders - FreebieFindingMom
Mini Pine Cone Christmas Tree – WonderfulDIY

Select photos © Brian Cohen