- A forest type characterized by cone-bearing, needle-leaved trees. They are generally, but not necessarily, evergreen and relatively shallow-rooted. Since they grow more rapidly than most broad-leaved trees, conifers are extensively planted as a source of softwood timber and pulp. They are tolerant of wide-ranging climatic conditions, of many different types of soil and of considerable differences in terrain. Thus, they are found from the polar latitudes to the tropics, on most types of soils (especially, thin acid soils) and from mountain summits to coastal environments.