At Christmas time conifers play a big part in our celebrations. For our Christmas trees are conifers.
"Conifer" means "cone-bearer." Most conifers produce their seeds in cones. A few have berry like fruits instead.
   Scattered over the world are hundreds of kinds of conifers. Not all of them are trees. Some junipers, for instance, are bushes which grow close to the ground. But most conifers are trees. Among them are the giants of the plant world—the red-woods and the big trees, or sequoias. Among them, too, are many of our most important timber trees.
   Most conifers are evergreens and do not drop their leaves when winter comes as elms and maples do. But some conifers do lose their leaves in the fall. The larches and the bald cypresses, for example, are conifers, but they are not evergreens.
   Some conifer leaves are scalelike and lap over one another. Others are so narrow they are called needles. The needles of different conifers are not alike. Some are short; others are long. Some are four-sided; others are flat. Some grow in bunches of two or more; others are not bunched. There are differences in color, too.
   The evergreen conifers do not keep the same leaves all their lives. They keep losing old leaves a few at a time instead of losing all of them at one time in the fall.
   Great conifer forests once covered a large part of the United States. Millions of trees have been cut for lumber. Millions more have been killed by forest fires. One of America's problems now is how to keep her conifer forests from disappearing.