|Mature Height||45 to 135 feet|
|Best Habitat||Temperate regions and mountains of tropical regions in the northern hemisphere
|Best Climate||Cool to Warm|
|Uses||Wood for building homes & furniture; cones for decor; resin for turpentine|
Pines are one of the most recognizable trees on the planet. Closely associated with Christmas and other festive holidays around the world, these majestic and fragrant trees from the Pinus genus, are real crowd pleasers. Fortunately, they are also easy to plant and maintain, which makes them a popular pick for professional landscapers and homeowners alike.
Appearance of the Tree
Botanists estimate that there are close to 125 species of Pines worldwide. Their height ranges from 45 to 135 feet with some Ponderosa Pines exceeding 250 feet. Despite their differences in height, Pine trees share a host of common characteristics that make up their familiar appearance:
- Needles: Instead of traditional leaves, Pine trees feature needles that are thin and pointed. Individual needles range in length from one inch to up to six inches. The needles typically grow in clusters and are traditionally dark green in color, though some trees feature green needles with a light blue tint. Pine trees are evergreens which mean their needles don't change color in the fall and don't shed in the winter months.
- Bark: One of the ways you can decipher the age of a Pine tree is to look at its bark. A young Pine has a smooth, greenish-brown bark, while older trees feature thick, dark brown bark covered with cracks and crevices. The one exception is the Scotch Pine with bark that turns reddish-brown as it ages.
- Cones: You won't find fruit growing on Pine trees. Rather, the towering trees produce cones that contain seeds. The scaly cones are used throughout the world as decorations in wreaths, centerpieces and floral arrangements.
Most Pines live between 100 and 1,000 years, though some have survived to nearly 5,000 years old. The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine is recognized as the world's oldest living organism having lived to roughly 4,600 years old.
Pine Tree Types
Pines are among the most well-known coniferous trees in the world. They thrive in temperate mountainous regions, but can also survive in tropical spots in the northern hemisphere.
Among the most popular types of Pine trees are:
- Scotch Pine: Commonly found in North America where it is commercially grown as a Christmas tree, the Scotch Pine is known for its beautiful bluish-green needles and full shape.
- Ponderosa Pine: Popular among landscapers, the large Ponderosa can grow up to 80 feet tall. Its pyramidal shape and long needles make it an excellent choice for a windbreaker on large properties.
- Bristlecone Pine: Known for its long life, the Bristlecone is among the shortest types of Pine trees. On average it grows to about 20 feet. Its short stature makes it an outstanding addition to a rock garden.
- Black Pine: Also known as the Austrian Pine, this highly attractive tree is a top pick for homeowners looking to add a Pine to their property. The tree is easy to maintain, doesn't exceed 60 feet in height and features eye-pleasing dense, dark green foliage.
Where the Pine Grows
Of the nearly 125 species of Pine trees on earth, roughly 90 percent can be found in the Northern Hemisphere, in places such as:
- United States
In addition, some species, such as the Loblolly Pine, thrive in the Southern Hemisphere, including Brazil, South Africa and New Zealand. These same hardy species thrive in the Southeastern United States, from central Texas to Georgia and the Florida Panhandle.
Despite what you see at Christmas, Pine trees are not reserved exclusively for decorating houses, hotels and shopping malls. Pine trees are extremely valuable resources for a variety of industries, especially those in the paper industry which use the trees' timber and wood pulp.
Other popular uses for Pine trees include:
- Wood: Used for building furniture, homes, coffins, window frames, and floors
- Cones: Crafters love Pine cones to decorate mantles, doors and tables
- Needles: Used to fill mattresses and pillows
- Resin: Good source of turpentine and can be used to waterproof items
Pine tree resin can also be heated and used as glue. In colonial America, settlers used hardened Pine resin as dental fillings.
The Pine tree has legions of fans, though no group is credited with uncovering as many uses for the Pine as the Iroquois. According to folklore, the ingenious settlers not only used the tree's wood to manufacturer canoes, they also used Pine resin to seal the seams of their water crafts.
Other noteworthy facts about Pine trees include:
- White Pines are rich in Vitamin A and C.
- Flour can be made from the Pine tree's inner bark.
- Pine seeds are edible and are often used to top salads.
- You can eliminate bad breath by peeling off the bark of thin Pine twigs and chewing on the inner pitch.
- You can reduce the pain of skin infections by applying warm Pine sap to them.
Pine trees are gorgeous and hardy, but they are not problem-free. The pretty trees are susceptible to a range of diseases, such as:
- Canker diseases
- Needle cast
- White Pine blister rust
- Root rot
- Beetle infestation
If not treated properly, the diseases can weaken the Pine and potentially kill it. Signs that you may need outside help in treating your tree include needle discoloration, holes in the trunk or defoliation.
Pine trees are immensely popular because they require minimum care in order to grow and prosper. You can easily add Pine trees to your property and get them to thrive by following these five tips:
- Do not overfertilize your Pine. Typically, Pines only need to be fertilized once a year--in early spring or late fall--for the first five growing seasons. Pine trees that have been in the ground longer than five years do not require fertilization.
- Prune your Pine annually. Late spring is an excellent time to prune your Pine tree in order to encourage denser foliage.
- Add mulch to the base of your Pine. By maintaining a 4-inch thick layer of Pine needle mulch you will help the soil retain moisture and an even temperature.
- Resist the urge to constantly water your Pine tree. A mature Pine needs infrequent watering as it is drought-tolerant.
- Do not prune your Pine during the summer, as you will lure bark beetles which can damage or kill your tree.
Since Pines thrive in full sunlight, do not plant the tree in the shade of a large structure or under the canopy of lager trees.