There are two kinds of seed-producing plants, flowering and non-flowering. Flowering plants are called angiosperms; their seeds grow inside tissue that is part of the plants’ ovaries, more commonly called fruit. Non-flowering plants that produce seeds are called gymnosperms. Conifers are gymnosperms; their seeds are “naked,” or unprotected by an ovary/fruit and are often located on the scales of a cone.
Some cones are male and some are female. The male cones produce pollen and the female cones produce ovules which, if fertilized, develop into seeds. The pictured tiny, magenta cones are this year’s seed (female) cones of White Spruce, (Picea glauca) which, when the time is right, open their scales to allow wind-blown pollen to reach and fertilize their ovules. The scales then close and will not open again until the seeds are fully mature. At this point the scales open a second time in order to release the fully developed seeds which are dispersed primarily by the wind.