Pinus thunbergii 'Pygmaea'
Common Name: Japanese black pine 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer


Grow in fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light afternoon shade and some drought. Salt tolerant.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pinus thunbergii commonly known as Japanese black pine, is noted for its whitish terminal buds that provide interesting contrast with its dark green foliage. In optimum growing conditions, this tree will grow in a generally conical form to 100’ tall, spreading somewhat irregularly with age. In cultivation, it is more often seen in the 20-60’ tall range. Needles (to 4.5” long) in bundles of two are an attractive dark green. Young foliage candles are upright.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for pines.

Specific epithet honors Carl Peter Thunberg, 18-19th century Sweedish physician.

‘Pygmaea’ is a compact cultivar with an irregular rounded form. It typically grows to only 5’ tall over the first 10 years. It features attractive dark green needles.


Healthy, well-maintained trees in optimum growing conditions have few major problems. Potential diseases include Diplodia tip blight, rusts, cankers, twig/needle blight and leaf cast. Potential insect pests include pinewood nematodes, caterpillars, miners, sawfly, scale, mealybugs, borers and weevils. These pines may struggle in the St. Louis area where environmental conditions do not favor most conifers.


Good compact specimen pine for the landscape.