|The dry coniferous forests are quite unlike other temperate forest communities, in that they are so dry, sunny, and open, with an appearance more like a savanna than a forest. Moist coniferous forests are more common, and have quite a different character than the dry woodlands.||At high elevations where the climate is cool and moist, forests of spruce and fir are common. These forests are dark with closely spaced trees, and are often difficult to move through because of many fallen trees and branches. These high-elevation coniferous forests are home to many of the same animal species as the boreal forests.|
|Of course, some of the most famous coniferous forests are the redwoods of California. Redwoods are the tallest trees on earth, and the tallest individual measured was 367.8 feet tall. They require great amounts of moisture and the range of this forest is limited to within 35 miles from the ocean, where it is often covered by coastal fog. There is usually a well-developed understory of shrubs such as Western azalea and Pacific rhododendron, ferns, and wildflowers.||
The remaining redwood forests of California have become a large tourist attraction, drawing visitors to parks where some of the tallest trees in the world can be seen. These forests were once much more extensive, but are confined to coastal areas. Photo by Maya Walters.
|Douglas-fir is a common tree throughout much of western North America. This conifer thrives in the temperate rain forests, but also grows in slightly drier sites, occasionally in the same areas as Ponderosa pine, which is the most abundant tree species in dry coniferous woodlands. The Douglas-fir is not a true fir, and this impressive tree can reach heights of over 200 feet.|
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