Resin Producing Conifers

Many people, including some scientists, in Western countries tend to think first of conifers as resin producers among the plants living today because of their prominence in temperate zone forests, with which they are most familiar. At least in the northern hemisphere, the odor of the volatile terpenes in conifers (figure on Part I page) evoke the idea of resin for many people, for example, the smell of a conifer forest or a Christmas tree. Conifers and their progenitors are also the plants that left the earliest fossil record of resin (Chapter 4) and today occur in 80% of the world's kinds of habitats. Although five of the seven conifer families synthesize resinous terpenoids, only members of Pinaceae and Araucariaceae produce copious amounts. As a result, these taxa have been most studied, either for utilization of the resin or because of the resin's protection of valuable timber (Chapters 5, 7-10). Resin from some species of Cupressaceae s.l. and a few of Podocarpaceae, however, have been used by humans or have been analyzed in chemosystem-atic or chemical ecological research and are discussed where appropriate.

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