Distribution of Conifers
The conifers, although a small group of plants (630 species) are distributed on all continents except Antarctica . In the northern hemisphere there are very extensive forests of conifers, such as in Canada , Scandinavia and Siberia , but these have only a handful of species. More diverse are mountains further south, such as the Rocky Mountains , the Caucasus and the Himalayas. Regions exceptionally rich in species of conifers are California, Mexico and China.
Most people would not imagine that there are also many conifers in the tropics, but they often do not ‘look like’ conifers (Podocarpus) and they also do not form forests in the same way as the pines and spruces of the north. Many of these species are also growing in high mountains.
The southern hemisphere also is rich in species, but they tend to be concentrated on the tips of continents ( South America , South Africa ) and on islands ( New Caledonia [43 species!], New Zealand and Tasmania ). There are large areas in the southern hemisphere without conifers, as in South America and Africa , and some of these gaps are difficult to explain. We know from the fossil record that these regions often had conifers as well.