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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pinus nigra - Austrian Pine

The Austrian pine (black pine) is the workhorse pine in many colder climates because its hardy, and its a beautiful dark green, densely branched large tree. As a young tree they grow quickly as a symmetrical, upright, with a dense canopy. Eventually reaching a height of 40 feet in landscapes, in their native habitat they become open and somewhat flat topped with age. If left alone, the lower branches are retained close to the ground. Often planted as large bonsai trees that get away from the owner. Habits of the different subspecies and varieties make selection important but also identification difficult. 




Here is an old one…



P.nigra caramanica from Morton Arboretum.




Leaves are in fascicles of 2, most commonly encountered subspecies have very dark green, 4-5" stiff, sharp tipped leaves pointing forwards on the stems. The other form have longer leaves, 5-6" long, lighter green and spreading.



These are the leaves of P.nigra caramanica. See how much more spreading they are?



Young stems are orangish brown, lacking any hairs, with large scales.



Male cones are yellow. 



Females red.



Mature cones are light tan, 3" long, oval shaped without sharp or distinctly projecting umbo.




Bark is attractive, furrowed, dark brown with flat plates, some trees show orangish colors poking through but usually its dark on dark.



The Austrian pine tree is native to a very large geographical area separated by a large body of water which for one reason or another has resulted in distinct populations resulting in 2 subspecies each with 3 botanical varieties. It uses to drive my students crazy in Spokane because the black pine was such an important conifer and you could see at least 2 of the varieties and they were very different in growth and foliage characteristics. The trees I have seen here all look to be an assortment.

A popular cultivar is Thundercloud, which is a dwarf with very large white buds. Very nice selection for smaller yards.




Misidentification:

2 needle pines here:
P. cembrioides, very short needles, small tree, tiny cones with pinyon seeds.
P. controta, has very short leaves and very much smaller cones, not really common.
P. densiflora has very thin leaves and every much smaller cones as well as being clustered, less common as well.
P. halepensis has thin leaves, found on the freeways usually.
P. mugo, small shrub generally,
P. nigra, leaves dark, stiff, white buds, yellowish tan cones, 
P. pinea, leaves thicker, stiffer, look for the leaves on new shoots on this one to be laying almost flat and forward as well as being retained longer.
P. sylvestris, bluish green leaves, distinctly twisted, smaller cones, reddish bark, not common.
P. thunbergii, thicker needles, often yellowish green, very sharp and usually twisted.

Location:
'Thunderhead' - 430 Seaview Drive

Aptos
335 Los Altos

Capitola
217 Oakland Ave

Santa Cruz
Gault and Darwin - Brancifort Branch Library
215 San Juan Ave

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