40 Species of Pines From Around the World

40 Species of Pines From Around the World

The Spruce, 2018

A pine is any conifer shrub or tree species from the Pinus genus of plants—a group that includes more than 120 species worldwide. These are evergreen conifers, woody plants that bear seed cones and which have bundles of needles rather than the broad leaves commonly found on deciduous trees.

Here are 40 common species of pine, many of which have become popular landscape plants now found well beyond their original native range.

When trying to definitively identify a pine, counting the number of leaves (needles) in each bundle (fascicle) can sometimes be the detail that allows you to make the proper identification. For example, two pines may look quite similar, but close examination to determine if they have two, three, or five needles per bundle can be the determining factor in pinpointing the species.

Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis)

Aleppo pine, sometimes known as Jeruselum pine, is an extremely drought-resistant specimen that is a valuable landscape tree in hot climates, such as that of southern California. The needles are a light yellowish-green. In some parts of the world, it is regarded as an invasive species, since it has a habit of taking over areas burned off by fire.

Aleppo pine is a large tree with a conical open-crowned shape. It works best on large properties where it has room to grow unimpeded.

Aleppo pines include two needles, and occasionally three, per bundle.

  • Native Area: Mediterranean region
  • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 10
  • Height: 30 to 60 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)

This medium- to large-sized conifer transforms from a pyramidal shape to a rounded-top specimen when fully mature. Also known as European black pine, the Austrian pine can be used as a specimen tree in the landscape or for screening purposes, but it is susceptible to a variety of pest and disease problems, especially in the Midwest.

Austrian pine has two densely tufted needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Cyprus, Turkey
  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
  • Height: 40 to 100 feet
  • Exposure: Full sun

Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata)

Matt Lavin/Flickr/CC By 2.0

This slow-growing, long-lived tree native to the southern Rocky Mountains makes a great specimen tree in the landscape, where its small size is perfect. It is a dwarfish species that can be used as a shrub or allowed to grow to small tree size. The bristlecone may also be called hickory pine or Rocky Mountain bristlecone in some regions.

Bristlecone pine features five needles per bundle. It is one of the oldest known living plants at more than 4000 years old.

  • Native Area: Southern mountain regions of North America—Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico
  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 4 to 8
  • Height: 8 to 30 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis)

This very large tree gradually develops a parasol-like canopy as it matures. It is a very sturdy, durable tree that tolerates most soil types. However, it does not tolerate cold. It is not a common landscape tree but is often farmed for its valuable, aromatic lumber.

Canary Island pine has three needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: Canary Islands (Spain)
  • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
  • Height: 50 to 80 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Chir Pine (Pinus roxburghii)

Karin de Mamiel / Getty Images

This large pine native to the Himalayas is an important forestry tree in Asia, although the wood is inferior to that of many other pines. It has no meaningful landscape use but is sometimes planted in the far South for use in construction and furniture making. The Chir pine is sometimes known as the imodi pine.

This pine has three needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: Himalayan regions of Asia—Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal
  • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11
  • Height: 60 to 180 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
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Coulter Pine (Pinus coulteri)

Coulter pine is a large tree with an irregular crown and very large, heavy cones. Several common names associated with it, including big cone pine, nut pine, pitch pine, and slash pine. Native to the coastal mountains of California and northern Baja California Mexico, the Coulter pine grows in all soils including heavy clay but prefers rocky soil at medium altitudes. It is sometimes planted as an ornamental tree in parks and large gardens and has no commercial use, except as firewood.

The Coulter pine features three needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: California, Mexico
  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 7 to 9
  • Height: 40 to100 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

User4c1fb51d_286 / Getty Images

User4c1fb51d_286 / Getty Images

This fast-growing, long-lived pine is one of the most important pine species in North America, grown both for timber and for landscape purposes. The eastern white pine (sometimes called simply a white pine) is by nature a large tree but it accepts pruning so readily that it can also be kept trained as a hedge shrub. Smooth gray bark becomes fissured with age. This tree does not tolerate pollution.

This pine has five needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: North America—United States and Canada
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Height: 50 to 100 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Foxtail Pine (Pinus blfouriana)

This is a somewhat rare pine that is most commonly found at or near the tree line in the Sierra Mountains. It is almost never grown as a landscape tree, but nature lovers find it beautiful when coming across it in natural settings.

This pine has five needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: California
  • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 5 to 8
  • Height: 20 to 50 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Gray Pine (Pinus sbiniana)

Gray pine is a tall pine with an unusual forked trunk. The tree is found in low foothills of the California mountains, but it is rarely planted in landscape applications. The gray pine has several other common names—foothill pine, California foothill pine, bull pine, and digger pine.

This species has three needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: California
  • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 9
  • Height: 40 to 70 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to light shade

Italian Stone Pine (Pinus Pinea)

Italian stone pine is a classic umbrella-shaped pine from the Mediterranean (it is also frequently called an umbrella pine). It has a very attractive form, but it is rarely grown in U.S. landscapes. It has edible pignoli nuts in Mediterranean regions. The tree is sometimes planted commercially as a food crop.

This pine has two needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: Southern Europe, Lebanon, Turkey
  • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 10
  • Height: 30 to 60 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana)

Jack pine is a somewhat scruffy, shabby-looking pine that is rarely used in landscapes, but its tolerance for poor soils can make it a good choice for windbreaks in rural settings,

This slender species has two needles appearing in twisted, divergent pairs and produced curved cones. This species is also known as Gray Pine.

  • Native Area: Northern United States, Canada
  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Height: 30 to 50 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii)

Japanese black pine (also called simply black pine) is an attractive, conical-shaped pine that can make a good specimen tree in the landscape. It is also sometimes used in bonsai craft. It is regarded as an invasive plant in Pennsylvania and a few other Atlantic coast states.

This pine has two needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: Japan, South Korea
  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
  • Height: 20 to 50 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Japanese White Pine (Pinus Parviflora)

photohomepage / Getty Images

Japanese white pine is a medium-sized tree that is a common specimen tree in the landscape. As the tree matures, it develops an attractive spreading branch pattern and flat top. This slow growing conifer has fine, bluish foliage and purplish brown bark. It is a favorite for bonsai enthusiasts.

This pine tree has five needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: Japan, South Korea
  • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
  • Height: 25 to 50 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
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Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi)

Jeffrey pine is a very tall but sparse tree that is rarely grown in landscape applications. It has a good tolerance for drought and poor soils. The blask bark smells like vanilla and young shoots produce an attractive gray bloom. It is regarded as invasive and undesirable in much of California.

This species features three needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: California, Nevada, Oregon, Mexico
  • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 8
  • Height: 80 to 100 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Lacebark Pine (Pinus bungeana)

This tree has an exfoliating bark that looks similar to that of the sycamore. It grows quite slowly, taking 50 years to reach a mature height of 50 feet. Its attractive bark makes it a favorite landscape specimen.

The lacebark pine has three needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: China
  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Height: 30 to 50 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis)

Maria_Ermolova / Getty Images

Limber pine is a highly adaptable tree that does well in difficult soils. When planted in landscapes, it is used for challenging conditions, such as poor soil.

Limber pine has five needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: United States, Canada
  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
  • Height: 30 to 60 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)

Ryan McGurl / Getty Images

Loblolly pine is naturally found in swampy areas in the Southeast, and its landscape uses are mostly confined to that region for damp, boggy soil conditions. It has a very straight trunk, and as it ages, the tree loses lower branches so that the crown towers far above the ground.

Loblolly pine has three needles per bundle.

  • Native Area: United States
  • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
  • Height: 50 to 80 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta)

Depending on the subspecies and variety, the lodgepole pine is a shrub or tree. As the botanical name contorta hints, the trunks on the tree tend to be twisted and contorted. This species is well suited to windy, barren sites and tolerates waterlogged ground. Rarely used in landscape planting, this pine does have commercial use as a source of construction lumber, poles, pulpwood, and veneers.

Lodgepole pine is a widely distributed pine that goes by many different common names in different regions, including beach pine, shore pine, coast pine, Bolander pine, Sierra lodgepole pine, tamarack pine, Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine, and black pine.

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What is the Best Mulch? Benefits and Drawbacks of Various Mulch Materials

The best mulch is one that fits your needs both functionally and aesthetically, so the answer is not the same for everyone. Every type of mulch has strengths and weaknesses, making it suitable for some situations and not others. Regardless of which type you choose, you should mulch. (Wondering how to mulch? here are some tips)

Mulching isn’t just about making garden beds look pretty. Mulch is both an attractive “finishing touch” and an important part of landscape management for its ability to control weeds and retain soil moisture. No matter which material you choose, they are almost all equally effective. Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of the mulches commonly available to see which best fit your landscape.

Very popular here in the south, pine needles or pine “straw”is lightweight and natural looking. Pine needles are naturally acidic as they break down, making them excellent for mulching around plants that prefer acidic soils (azaleas, rhododendrons,camellias, etc.) During heavy rain events, pine needles tend to stay put and not wash away, making them an excellent choice on slopes. Harvested from the floor of pine forests and naturally shed by pine trees, needles are a very renewable product. Needles breakdown relatively slowly compared to other organic mulches. They can take some practice to put down so that they look tidy. As pine needles age they turn a silver-grey that some people find unattractive. Finally, bale sizes can be variable, and occasionally contain sticks, leaves and other forest trash (and sometimes real trash).

Ease of application is the strong suit of pine bark nugget mulches. Pine bark nuggets come in several different size grades, from “mini” to “jumbo” nuggets. (Soil conditioner is a ground pine bark product smaller than mini-nuggets that can also be used as mulch.) Pine bark is long lasting, and when it does break down it enriches the soil with organic material. Water pooling can cause bark nuggets to float and spread, and moving water can cause it to wash away, requiring it be raked back or replaced entirely. This makes bark nuggets less suitable for areas that tend to get flowing water in heavy rains.

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Shredded hardwood has similar properties to bark nuggets but is less likely to wash away. Like pine bark nuggets, it is a byproduct of the lumber and paper industries. It spreads easily and is long lasting. When hardwood mulches break down they make soil more alkaline (raising pH), which should be taken into account when mulching around acid-loving plants. You may need to use an acid fertilizer or add sulfur to compensate. Hardwood mulch can compact over time and can block rain and nutrients from reaching the soil when that happens.

Red colored wood mulch. This mulch has improperly been placed against the trunk of the tree.

Colored wood mulch is often made from recycled wood that can contain objectionable additives—including arsenic from pressure-treated wood—and is not always 100% hardwood. Pressure-treated wood containing arsenic was phased out a decade ago by the EPA, but old crates and pallets may still be entering the recycling stream. If you’reconsidering colored mulch, be sure the manufacturer uses raw lumber rather than recycled wood. The dyes used for colored mulches are considered safe, however.

(Whenever using wood mulch products, never let it contact any wooden siding or other parts of your home. Termites can and do inhabit wood mulches, but it’s not necessarily a reason to avoid wood mulches altogether. Termites will take advantage of increased soil moisture provided by any mulch for shelter.)

Compost and manure used as mulch add large amounts of organic material to the soil quickly, improving soil structure and nutrient and water holding capacity. However,they do not inhibit weed growth nearly as well as wood or needle mulches. If you use your own compost to mulch, be sure you have not put any material that had herbicides in your mulch bin.

Rarely used alone, landscape fabric or weed barrier is usually covered with other mulches for aesthetic reasons. While the double-barrier is excellent for stopping weeds, using fabric barrier with mulch keeps desirable organic material from reaching the soil as the organic mulch on top breaks down. Eventually this creates a layer of “dirt” on top of the fabric which needs to be removed periodically. Weeds can and do develop in this dirt layer and can be difficult to remove if they root through the fabric into the soil below.

Still relatively uncommon due to its expense, shredded rubber mulch does not breakdown and can be considered nearly permanent. The color remains stable for many years and it stays put better than almost any other mulch. It is, however,very heavy and difficult to move, and adds no beneficial organic material tothe soil. Rubber mulch can also have a disagreeable odor that can persist for a while after installation. It is ideal for playground areas as it won’t cause splinters and absorbs impact from falls.

In the right setting, stone mulches (pebbles, gravel or rocks) can be a good choice. They stay put and don’t break down. Smaller sizes such as gravel and pebbles can eventually sink into the soil, requiring touch-up applications (this is where landscape fabric is best used-under stone mulches to prevent sinking) . Larger sized rock mulches can make it difficult to add plants and are difficult to move or remove if you change your mind. Stone mulches can be less effective in reducing water loss from soil when used in sunny areas-the rocks keep soil warmer, increasing evaporation.

There are several products that should never be used as mulch: sawdust, wood shavings and un-aged wood chips. As these materials begin to break down, they consume large amounts of nitrogen, depriving surrounding plants of this vital nutrient. Commercially produced wood products intended for mulch have been aged past this stage and are safe to apply around plants.

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