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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pinus strobus 'Tortuosa' - Contorted Eastern White Pine

And now for something completely different. You don't see many white pines in our latitude and elevation, there are a few (P. flexilis) here and there but this one is very different.

Eastern White Pines are quite narrow when young eventually developing into a flat-topped tree with great age. Pinus strobus has lots of cultivars, many are dwarfs, some weeping ones and an occasional variegated one but 'Torulosa' adds lots of  interest with it's twisted leaves. Gotta love it. The only real difference is the leaves but it also does not grow as tall, maxing out at about 40'.  This is the one located on Avalon St in SC.



The evergreen needle-like leaves are in clusters of 5's, each about 3-4" long, twisted, slender and very soft to the touch. They are held on the tree only 2 years so they will only be found at the ends of the stems.



Stems are light olive green and mostly glabrous. May find some hairs behind the bundles but not very noticeable. Interestingly they are normal, not contorted like the leaves. Below is a picture from the species and not 'Tortuosa'.



Male cones are yellow when opening (as the pollen is yellow) and the females are red, but they are almost always way too high up the tree to see.



The mature cones are medium brown, 3 - 6" long and slender. These are not 'Torulosa' but they are P. strobus. These you can see are not mature and such are still green. For the most part, white pines have narrow cones without a large prickle on the ends of the scales.



Misidentification: Always look at the needle number first. These are in 5's and they are twisted.

Location:
Capitola: 105 Oakland Ave, on Depot Hill. Not real obvious, but close to the house and driveway. Nice specimen. So bummed, removed winter 2013.

Santa Cruz: 115 Avalon. There is a nice Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans' right in front of this pine. And if you are there be sure to look kitty corner 204 Avalon, there is a Parrotia persica.

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