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Stone pine

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Title: Stone pine  
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Subject: Forests of the Iberian Peninsula, Christmas tree, Pinus pinea bract.jpg, Acilia, Juvenile (organism)
Collection: Edible Nuts and Seeds, Flora of Corsica, Flora of Cyprus, Flora of France, Flora of Greece, Flora of Lebanon, Flora of New South Wales, Flora of Portugal, Flora of Sicily, Flora of Southeastern Europe, Flora of Southwestern Europe, Flora of Spain, Flora of Syria, Flora of the Canary Islands, Flora of the Levant, Flora of the Mediterranean, Flora of Turkey, Flora of Western Asia, Garden Plants of Asia, Garden Plants of Europe, Gymnosperms of Metropolitan France, Invasive Plant Species in South Africa, Least Concern Plants, Ornamental Trees, Pinus, Plants Described in 1753, Trees of Mediterranean Climate, Trees of Metropolitan France
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Stone pine

Stone pine
Stone pine forest
Costa de la Luz, Spain
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Pinus
Subgenus: Pinus
Species: P. pinea
Binomial name
Pinus pinea
Range of Pinus pinea

The stone pine, with the botanical name Pinus pinea, is also called the Italian stone pine, umbrella pine and parasol pine. It is a tree from the pine family (Pinaceae). The tree is native to the Mediterranean region, occurring in Southern Europe, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. It is also naturalized in North Africa, the Canary Islands, South Africa and New South Wales. The species was introduced into North Africa millennia ago, such a long time that it essentially indistinguishable from being native.

Stone pines have been used and cultivated for their edible pine nuts since prehistoric times. They are widespread in horticultural cultivation as ornamental trees, planted in gardens and parks around the world. This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[1]


  • Distribution 1
  • Description 2
  • Cultivation 3
    • Food 3.1
    • Ornamental tree 3.2
  • Pests 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


The prehistoric range of Pinus pinea included North Africa in the Sahara Desert and Maghreb regions during a more humid climate period, in present day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Its contemporary natural range is in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome ecoregions and countries, including:

Southern Europe

The Iberian conifer forests ecoregion of the Iberian Peninsula in Spain and Portugal; the Italian sclerophyllous and semideciduous forests ecoregion in France and Italy; the Tyrrhenian-Adriatic sclerophyllous and mixed forests ecoregion of southern Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia; the Illyrian deciduous forests of the eastern coast of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas in Croatia and Albania; and the Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests ecoregion of the southern Balkan Peninsula in Greece.

In Greece, although rare,[2] an extensive stone pine forest exists in western Peloponnese at Strofylia[3] on the peninsula separating the Kalogria Lagoon from the Mediterranean Sea. This coastal forest is at least 8 miles long, with dense and tall stands of Pinus pinea mixed with Pinus halepensis.[4] Currently, Pinus halepensis is outcompeting stone pines in many locations of the forest.[5] Another location in Greece is at Koukounaries on the northern Aegean island of Skiathos at the southwest corner of the island. This is a half a mile long dense stand of stone and Aleppo pines that lies between a lagoon and the Aegean Sea.[6] A fine-textured sand beach lies between the Koukounaries forest and the sea.

Mid-age tree with umbrella canopy, in Catalonia, Spain.
Mature tree with flatter crown, in Tuscany, Italy
Western Asia

In Western Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean conifer-sclerophyllous-broadleaf forests ecoregion in Turkey; and the Southern Anatolian montane conifer and deciduous forests ecoregion in Lebanon, Syria, and northern Israel

Northern Africa

The Mediterranean woodlands and forests ecoregion of North Africa, in Morocco and Algeria

South Africa

In the Western Cape Province, where the pines were according to legend planted by the French Huguenot refugees who settled at the Cape of Good Hope during the late 17th century, and brought the seeds with them from France. Known in the Afrikaans language as kroonden.


Pinus pinea: juvenile (left) — adult foliage (right)

The stone pine is a coniferous evergreen tree that can exceed 25 metres (82 ft) in height, but 12–20 metres (39–66 ft) is more typical. In youth, it is a bushy globe, in mid-age an umbrella canopy on a thick trunk, and, in maturity, a broad and flat crown over 8 metres (26 ft) in width.[1] The bark is thick, red-brown and deeply fissured into broad vertical plates.


The flexible mid-green leaves are needle-like, in bundles of two, and are 10–20 centimetres (3.9–7.9 in) long (exceptionally up to 30 centimetres (12 in)). Young trees up to 5–10 years old bear juvenile leaves, which are very different, single (not paired), 2–4 centimetres (0.79–1.57 in) long, glaucous blue-green; the adult leaves appear mixed with juvenile leaves from the fourth or fifth year on, replacing it fully by around the tenth year. Juvenile leaves are also produced in regrowth following injury, such as a broken shoot, on older trees.

Pinus pinea: the cone and seeds

The cones are broad, ovoid, 8–15 centimetres (3.1–5.9 in) long, and take 36 months to mature, longer than any other pine. The seeds (pine nuts, piñones, pinhões, pinoli, or pignons) are large, 2 centimetres (0.79 in) long, and pale brown with a powdery black coating that rubs off easily, and have a rudimentary 4–8 millimetres (0.16–0.31 in) wing that falls off very easily. The wing is ineffective for wind dispersal, and the seeds are animal-dispersed, originally mainly by the Iberian magpie, but in recent history, very largely by humans.

Mature cone on a tree


Pinus pinea: the bark's vertical texture in close-up
Pinus pinea: seedling


Pinus pinea has been cultivated extensively for at least 6,000 years for its edible pine nuts, which have been trade items since early historic times. The tree has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region for so long that it has naturalized, and is often considered native beyond its natural range.

Ornamental tree

In Italy, the stone pine has been an aesthetic landscape element since the Italian Renaissance garden period. In the 1700s, P. pinea began being introduced as an ornamental tree to other Mediterranean climate regions of the world, and is now often found in gardens and parks in South Africa, California, and Australia. It has naturalized beyond cities in South Africa to the extent that it is listed as an invasive species there. It is also planted in western Europe up to southern Scotland, and on the East Coast of the United States up to New Jersey.

Small specimens are used for Bonsai, and also grown in large pots and planters. The year-old seedlings are seasonally available as 20–30 centimetres (7.9–11.8 in) tall table-top Christmas trees.


The introduced western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis) was accidentally imported with timber to northern Italy in the late 1990s from western USA, and has spread across Europe as an invasive pest species since then. It feeds on the sap of developing conifer cones throughout its life, and its sap-sucking causes the developing seeds to wither and misdevelop. It has destroyed most of the pine nut seeds in Italy, threatening P. pinea in its native habitats there.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Pinus pinea". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Earle, Christopher J. "Pinus pinea". The Gymnosperm database. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Strofylia - Greece". F:ACTS!. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "GR098 Kalogria lagoon, Strofilia forest, and Lamia marshes". Hellenic Ornithological Society. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Ganatsas, Petros. "Pinus halepensis invasion in Pinus pinea habitat" (PDF). Journal for Nature Conservation. Elsevier. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ PR1 (20 October 2010). "Italy’s pine nut pest".  
  • [2] The Gymnosperm Database
  • A case study on stone pine farms in Turkey
  • Conifer Specialist Group (1998). Pinus pinea. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
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