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Coniferous Forest Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Debra Patuto

Debra has taught at elementary levels and has an M.ed with certification in elementary education and special education

Some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world are in coniferous forests around the world. This lesson will teach you about the coniferous forest and where you could locate one. We will also explore the different levels of the forest and learn about the different parts to the conifer trees.

What is a Coniferous Forest?

A coniferous forest is one made up of trees called conifers or cone bearing trees. These forests are spread across the northern hemisphere (north of the equator), although they can also be found in certain places in the southern hemisphere. Although you will find some coniferous forests in warmer climates, they are known for growing best in climates where there are short summers and long, cold winters.

The coniferous forest is structured in only two layers. The canopy layer, which is made up of the tallest trees, and the undergrowth later, which has very little plant life around it due to very little sunlight and poor soil.

A coniferous forest in the winter.
coniferous forest

The Trees

Conifers are cone-bearing trees that have needle-like leaves and stay green all year long. Another name for conifers is evergreen trees. There are two groups of conifers: those that grow well in cold climates, such as pine, fir, spruces and hemlocks; and those that grow well in warmer climates, such as cypress, cedar and redwood.

The conifer trees can vary in shape and size. Some can be very small shrub-like trees, and others can be huge. The Giant Sequoia trees found in California can be over 300 feet tall. General Sherman is the name of the largest Sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park and is 275 feet tall, 100 feet wide and over 2.2 million pounds! The very tallest trees are the Redwood trees, which can measure over 350 feet tall. The tallest redwood tree in the world is named Hyperion, and it is 370.7 feet tall.

Some of the world's oldest conifers are bristlecone pine trees, found in California and Nevada. They are over 5,000 years old.

These are Redwood trees. No wonder some people refer to these trees as Earths skyscrapers.
Redwood Forest

The Needles

All conifers have needles that have a waxy outer coating that allows them to hold moisture and prevents freezing in extreme cold. Conifer needles shed in late August into October but do not decompose or break down very easily. Because of this, the soil below becomes acidic, which prevents many plants from growing there. Mosses and ferns, which thrive in dark, moist areas, are more commonly found.

This picture shows the cones and needles on a conifer tree. Notice the scales on the pinecone and the waxy coat on the needles.
pinecone

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