Pinus flexilis 'Vanderwolf's Pyramid'
Common Name: limber pine
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 20.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Best grown in moist, well-drained soils, however species plants are rather adaptable, often being found growing in high alpine areas in the wild in dry, rocky soils. It forms a large taproot and is difficult to transplant once established in the landscape. Although adaptable, limber pine does not generally perform well in the St. Louis climate, and is not recommended for planting south of USDA Zone 7.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pinus flexilis, commonly called limber pine, is primarily found in the Rocky Mountains from Canada to New Mexico at elevations of 5,000 to 12,000 feet. It typically grows 25-60’ tall with a pyramidal habit maturing over time to a more rounded form. However, in exposed high alpine sites at or near tree line, it may also be seen growing in very dwarf shrubby shapes twisted and contorted by the extreme elements. It features dark green to bluish green needles (to 3.5” long) in bundles of five and short-stalked, thick-scaled, brown cones to 8” long. Cones fall to the ground without disintegrating.

The specific epithet and common name of this pine are in reference to the flexible (limber) branchlets/twigs.

‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’ is an upright, pyramidal tree with closely spaced, twisted, silvery blue green needles. It typically grows slowly to 20-30’ tall by 10-15’ wide in cultivation. It was introduced into commerce by Vermeulen Nursery of New Jersey in 1972.

Problems

Limber pine is generally considered to be an adaptable, low-maintenance tree with few problems. It is susceptible to certain rots and blights, but its most dangerous enemy is white pine blister rust which is a bark disease that is usually fatal. Species of Ribes (e.g., currants and gooseberries) are the alternate host for white pine blister rust and should not be planted in areas where limber pines or white pines are under attack. White pine blister rust is not considered to be a problem in Missouri, however. Aphids, weevils, spider mites and scale are not uncommon insect visitors.

Garden Uses

Medium-sized pine for the landscape.