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First of all if you said there is no answer your right. There is no opposite of a type of organism. Cat is not the opposite of dog, and apple is not the opposite of banana but…We all know what this question really means and it should be phrased like this.
What is the other common general classification of tree which is not a conifer?
So now that we are all on the same page most people would probably say “deciduous”, but that is INCORRECT. So what is the meaning of conifer and what is the meaning of deciduous.
What is a Conifer?
A conifer is a tree that has a cone, for example pines have pine cones, spruce have spruce cones, hemlock have hemlock cones. Often times they are all referred to as pine cones but that is a misnomer.
What is a Deciduous Tree?
A deciduous tree is a tree that loses its leaves(needles) in the winter. As we can see these two definitions don’t even refer to the same characteristics of the plant. The opposite of deciduous is evergreen which is a plant that does not lose its leaves(needles) in the winter.
Aren’t all Evergreens Conifers?
This is where the confusion sets in for many people. An evergreen tree keeps its leaves(needles) in the winter but there are some conifers(cone bearing plants) that lose their needles in the winter such as larch, dawn redwood and baldcypress. These plants are deciduous conifers, so the terms definitely aren’t opposite, in this case deciduous and coniferous refer to the same plant.
So What is the opposite of Coniferous?
Coniferous means “cone bearing” so the opposite would be “non-cone bearing”. That’s the answer… the opposite of conifer is “non-cone bearing”. That doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as “deciduous” and most people don’t find the need to be that specific since most conifers are not deciduous.
Another Way to Look at It
All conifers fall under the taxonomic division called pinophyta there are 4 other divisions of seed bearing plants, the largest being magnoliophyta which are flowering plants also referred to as angiosperms. The other 3 divisions contain few species and are generally not spoken of when comparing conifers to flowering plants. So if you said “Flowering plant”,”Angiosperm” or “Magnoliophyta” you were pretty close… many would consider that a correct answer.
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