But how to tell a juniper from a larch? A Douglas from a Silver fir? Why is the softwood from conifers used far more widely than the broadleaves’ hardwood? Which are Britain’s native conifers - and which exotic species were introduced from Europe, the Americas and Asia?
Alan Mitchell’s fascinating guide to conifers features 40 types: two natives, the rest brought to Britain over the years. A number of varieties are now planted on a large scale, and many are familiar sights in parks and gardens.
Conifers reveals the extraordinary story of the Dawn Redwood, until 1941 known only from fossils dating back 100 million years but then found alive and well in China. It describes the enormous Sequoia sem pervirens - Coast Redwood - many American examples of which measure well over 100 metres and are still growing. And it examines some of the more common conifers which, because they thrive even in poor conditions, are so important to economies all over the world.