Scots pine is one of only three native conifers found in the UK and our only true cone-bearing tree. Although Scots pine can trace its earliest British ancestry back to the end of the Ice Age, it is something of an anomaly in that relatively few of the trees living today are directly descended from those early colonisers. Originally forming extensive forests over most of Britain, a change in the climate to warmer temperatures some 5000 years ago favoured deciduous trees and pushed the range of the Scots pine northwards, out of most of England and Wales. In the seventeenth century, a combination of tree-felling for industrial use and the notorious Highland clearances all but eradicated the tree in northern Scotland. There was estimated to be little more than 10,000 hectares of native Scots pine forest left in Scotland by the 1970s. This tree can grow as high as 40 metres and often has a trunk that is extensively forked. The bark is reddish-brown and forms flaky plates. In common with other pines, the tree bears stiff waxy needles instead of flattened leaves. These grow in pairs from the twigs and are between five and seven centimetres long. The tree also bears its seeds in cones, small egg-shaped woody structures which appear green and resinous in their first year, later drying to produce the familiar mini-pineapple shaped pinecones from which the seeds are dispersed.