Conifer seed cones are complex structures that perform some of the most crucial functions in the lifecycle of a plant, from capturing pollen during pollination to protecting and dispersing mature seeds. Because conifer cones are also highly integrated in their growth and development, the specific structures that a given species develops to perform any one of these functions may influence the morphologies it uses to perform functions later in its ontogeny. We are currently working on several projects that explore these potential interactions, focusing on how the performance of specific functions is tied to the extent and types of growth in the cone (e.g., cell expansion versus cell proliferation), and how these relationships may dictate the range of morphological diversity observed in extant and fossil species. These projects focus on the pine family (Pinaceae) and involve extensive collections of developing cones from trees growing in Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. We use a variety of microscopy techniques (e.g., standard anatomical sections and staining, confocal microscopy) to visualize regions of cone growth and identify how these regions shift over ontogeny in response to changing functional demands.