Saturday, December 21, 2013
As the showy deciduous trees have lost their leaves it is the evergreens that brighten the short days of winter. As we welcome winter officially on December 21 it is a fine time to get to know pine.
How to identify a pine tree - take a moment to consider this task, there are 115 species in genus Pinus and while one day you may want know them all learning a few is immensely satisfying. To begin, first look to the needles. A pine tree's needles are grouped in bundles of two, three, or five covered in a small papery sheath at the base. White Pine (Pinus strobus)
- soft and delicate, the needles are 5 to a sheath. This is a great timber tree of the Northeast and the state tree of Maine. It can grow as high as 150 feet: Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)
- 2 needles to a sheath. Bluish-green and stiff texture - a bit wiry: Pitch pine (Pinus rigida)
- THE pine of the New Jersey pine barrens. Needles are 3 to a sheath and 3.5-4 inches long, stiff and slightly twisted:
A New York City favorite - Himalayan Pine (Pinus wallichiana)
- Five needles to a sheath. I love this tree, a non-native and planted in Central Park, Fort Greene Park, New York Botanical Garden, Prospect Park - to name just a few, this is one of my favorite city pine trees for form and inspiration. This tree is sweeping and elegant, the sound of the wind through it's branches always stirs may imagination to consider how amazing a ski trip to the Himalayas where these trees are native and can reach heights of 150 feet:
As you head out on your winter strolls, be it a vigorous hike or a stroll through the city enjoy the sound of the wind through the branches and try to smell the scent of pine.
Submitted by Lisa Nett.