Skip to main content
What's Blooming Now Banner - Winter

It's Time to Hit the Gym(nosperm)

Submitted: March 2, 2023, 1:47 p.m.
By: Jason Baker, Curator

Let's hit the what? What's a gymnosperm? They are a group of plants that produce seeds not enclosed within an ovary or fruit. Examples include: Pines, Spruces, Firs, Ginkgos, Ephedras, Yews, and others.

At the Garden we have a Conifer Collection which includes conifers as well as other gymnosperms like Ginkgos, Yews, and Ephedras. In our collection we have over 1,300 individual plants and over 210 species and varieties.


Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma)

This lovely Utah native can be found in nearly every corner of the state. They are incredibly waterwise and underutilized in the home landscape.


Bluestem Jointfir (Ephedra equisetina)

Native to China, this species of Ephedra can be found in our Water Conservation Garden looking stunning at all times of the year.

Pinus-monophylla-Leaves-1-JWB22 copy

Single Needle PiƱon (Pinus monophylla)

Another fantastic Utah native, this pine species is the only species that produces one needle per bundle. All other pines produce their needles in bundles of 2, 3, or 5.


Weeping Norway Spruce (Picea abies 'Pendula')

The seed bearing cones of this species are somewhat papery and woody and range in size from four to six inches long.


Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Pendula')

In early summer, the branches produce loads of pollen producing cones that release their pollen into the air. Once their pollen is gone, the cones fall off.


Gray Alder (Alnus incana)

One last set of cones...wait a minute...these aren't cones. Another Utah native, Alders produces small structures that look just like miniature conifer cones. The "cones" are actually the seed bearing catkins (or fruit) of this birch relative.

Winter is the best time to see conifers in the Garden, so bundle up and come see some of our stately specimens...but please don't actually hit our gymnosperms.

Photos by Glenn Eurick and Jason W. Baker