Gymnosperms are all vascular plants that produce seeds, but don’t bear flowers. They are the conifers, cycads, and the Gingko tree.
These three groups of plants look quite different from each other. Conifers are well-known: they are the pine trees, cypresses, junipers, yews, sequoias, firs, and other cone-bearing evergreen trees and shrubs.
Cycads are an ancient group of plants that look a bit like palm trees. They ruled the land along with dinosaurs during the Jurassic period. Today, there are about 300 species of cycads, and many of them are in risk of extinction. They grow very slowly and live a very long time: some cycads are known to be over 1000 years old.
Gingko biloba is the other member of the gymnosperm group. It’s the only living species in its order (Ginkgoales). They are large trees native to China, and cultivated worldwide as ornamental plants and for the medicinal properties of their leaves.
Conifers are most common in cool areas such as temperate and boreal forests. Indeed, most species need their cold winters, and don’t do very well under glass. Because of that, cycads represent the bulk of our Gymnosperm collection.
View examples of this plant family in the gallery below, or go to the Gymnosperms' families listings at the bottom of the page to access our database of specific plants.