Gymnosperms are a group of seed plants that produce “naked” seeds, often forming cones or cone-like structures, in contrast with angiosperms (flowering plants), which produce seeds contained within a fruit. Gymnosperms are an ancient group, with many extinct lineages, and four distinct extant (living) phyla: Conifers, Cycads, Ginkgo, and Gnetophytes. These groups are morphologically and ecologically diverse. Gymnosperm species are distributed worldwide, but all of the gymnosperms native to New York City are conifers.
There are 15 species of gymnosperms listed in the State of the City’s Plants. Three are introduced: Taxus baccata (yew), Taxus cuspidata (Japanese yew), and Pinus sylvestris (Scotch pine). Common native species include Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar), Pinus strobus (white pine), Tsuga canadensis (Eastern hemlock), and Taxus canadensis (American yew). There are also several state endangered species that can be found in NYC: Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar), Pinus resinosa (shortleaf pine), and Pinus virginiana (Virginia pine). Ginkgo biloba is a popular ornamental and street tree.
Check out the resources below to learn more about our local gymnosperms!