Any of various gymnosperms that bear their reproductive structures in cones and belong to the phylum Coniferophyta. Conifers evolved around 300 million years ago and, as a group, show many adaptations to drier and cooler environments. They are usually evergreen and often have drought-resistant leaves that are needle-shaped or scalelike. They depend on the wind to blow pollen produced by male cones to female cones, where fertilization takes place and seeds develop. Conifers are widely distributed, but conifer species dominate the northern forest biome known as the taiga. There are some 550 species of conifers, including the pines, firs, spruces, hemlocks, cypresses, junipers, yews, and redwoods. See more at pollination, seed-bearing plant.