Why Are Pine Cones?
It is easy to find pine cones if you want them. They are all over the ground under and around pine trees. The real question is just what are pine cones good for?
Pine cones are the reproductive organs for pine trees. There are male cones and female cones.
The male cones are small and much softer than the female cones. The male cones are full of pollen which is collected by the wind and carried to female cones. After the pollen is gone so are the male cones.
The female pine cones are the hard cones we find in and around the trees. They carry the seeds and the nuts that are the fruit of the pine tree.
When the seeds in the sticky female cones are fertilized the cones become hard and woody. Once the seeds ripen the cone will open up and release the seeds. The seeds are picked up by the wind and spread to new places. Then the cone falls from the tree.
The seeds are called "naked" seeds because they are not hidden inside fruit. They are also not spores. They are pine embryos that have a small amount of nutrients attaches to help feed them until they take root.
There are about 35 types of pine tree that produce cones. The cones for each type is different yet the same. The basic male/female aspects are the same. The size and color of the female cones vary.
The cones range from brown to green to blue and even purple in color. The smallest female cone is about 1/4 inch long while the longest is around two feet long. The seeds may take a few months to ripen or they may take several years.
Squirrels and some birds strip and eat pine cones. They will also work into the cone to eat the seeds and the nuts. Often the birds and animals do not bother with the cones on the ground because there are no seeds in them.
People often collect the cones on the ground. They are useful in crafts and very durable.
Now we know why there are pine cones.