What is a bract on a cone?

Bracts are structures in some seed cones (i.e., female cones),  especially on trees in the pine family (Pinaceae). The seed cones of those conifers are comprised of bracts and cone scales.

On the seed cones of some Pacific NW conifers such as Douglas-fir, noble fir, and larches, the bracts extend well beyond the cone scales and are very prominent, as shown here:

Biologists are not yet sure about the function of the bract-and-scale structure of cones.

On cones in the cypress family (Cupressaceae) such as western redcedar, Alaska yellow-cedar, incense-cedar, and junipers, the bracts and cone scales are fused and do not have separate identities.

Cones of members of the yew family (Taxaceae) are highly modified. There is only one "scale," which develops into a red berry. No bract is visible.

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