Pinus pinea
Common Name: stone pine
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Native Range: Mediterranean
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Drought

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 8 where it may be grown in dry to medium moisture, well-drained loams in full sun. Established trees have respectable drought tolerance. Trees are generally tolerant of a wide range of soils, including both sandy and clay soils. Avoid poorly-drained soils. These trees prefer cool summer climates. Trees are uncommonly planted in most of the southern U.S., but seem to grow well along the California coast where temperature variations throughout the year are not substantial. Small plants of Pinus pinea are sold as indoor Christmas trees for the holidays. In zones 8-10 they may be planted outdoors after Christmas. In cold climates they are best treated as a short term seasonal indoor plant. True pines do not make good indoor houseplants.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Stone pine (also commonly called Italian stone pine, Roman pine, parasol pine and umbrella pine) is native to the northern Mediterranean coastal region (Southern Europe to Turkey and Lebanon). In the Mediterranean area, edible pine nuts (pignolis) from this pine have been harvested since prehistoric times. Pine nuts may be eaten raw or roasted, and may be added to a variety of culinary dishes. This is an umbrella-shaped tree that grows in its native habitat to 40-60' (less frequently to 100') tall over time. In youth, it has displays a rounded shrubby form. In its middle years, it develops a thick trunk with an umbrella-shaped crown, often losing its lower branches as its slender trunk grows taller. With age, the top continues to broaden and flatten as trees assume often picturesque umbrella or mushroom like shapes. Mature trees are noted for having reddish-brown deeply-fissured bark. Bright green (sometimes grayish-green) needles (to 5-8" long) appear in bundles of two. Large, broad-oval to nearly spherical cones (to 6" long) ripen to chestnut brown. Cones take 36 months to mature (longest maturation time for any of the pines). Large edible seeds (pine nuts to 7/8" long) are brown with a powdery black coating, and are valued for their size, taste and texture. Although several different species of pine trees are notable for producing quality pine nuts, the nuts from this species are often considered to be at the top of the list. Additional pines that are grown for their nuts are P. cembra (Swiss stone pine), P. cembroides (Mexican stone pine), P. edulis (pinyon pine) and P. koraiensis (Korean pine). Common name of stone pine is in probable reference to the hard shelled nuts.

Problems

In its native habitat, healthy, well-maintained trees usually have few major problems. This pine can be difficult to grow well in the St. Louis area because of soil and climate. It is susceptible to tip blight, rusts and rots. Pine needle scale can be a serious problem in some areas. Sawflies, moths and borers may appear.

Garden Uses

Although uncommonly planted in the U. S., stone pine grows well in groups, as a screen or as a single specimen. It has an ornamentally attractive form that is atypical of most pines. It is commercially grown in some areas (particularly southern Europe) for harvest of pine nuts.