Until we lived here, I never really looked at a pine cone. I knew they carried the seeds of the tree, but that was about it. Here we have two types of cone: from our young pine trees, pinus pinea; and from the conifers, cipressas, we have planted. Are the cones the same?
First, the male and female differ. Of course they do. The one we are all familiar with is the woody female cone, which produces the seeds, this is the one we kick around on winter walks in evergreen forests. The male cone, which produces the pollen, is herbaceous and less conspicuous.
All members of the pine family – pines, spruces, firs, cedars, larches etc – have cones that are imbricate [with scales overlapping each other like fish scales]. These [below, a pine cone from one of our pinus pinea trees] are the ‘archetypal’ cones.
Members of the cypress family – our cipressas [below], plus junipers, redwoods etc – have bract and seed scales which are fully fused, so the bract is visible as only a small lump or spine on the scale.
5 to remember
la piña/el cono – cone
la cipressa – conifer
mismo/a – the same [when used before a noun]
macho – male [animal or plant, not human]
hembra – female [animal or plant, not human]