Pinecones contain the reproductive structures of the tree. A female cone produces seeds and a male cone produces pollen. The female cone is the large woody one that people are more likely to be familiar with. Its scales become seeds when fertilised from pollen from the less conspicuous male cones. The male cones are very similar among all species of conifers, whereas the female cones are more varied, making them the ideal way to identify the species. Pinecone scales overlap each other like fish scales to protect the seeds.
Answered by Lindsey Loughtman.