Scots Pine – Pinus sylvestris

Scots Pine – Pinus sylvestris
Waterer Scots Pine – Pinus sylvestris 'watereri'
Family Pinaceae: Pine, Cedar, Spruce, Fir

Scots Pine Trees
These elegant Scots pines are part of the original

Scots Pine Trees
Morton Arboretum plantings, circa 1924.

Scots (or "Scotch") pine is the most widely distributed pine in the world. It grows naturally from Scotland almost to the Pacific Ocean and from above the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. Its altitudinal range is from sea level to about 2440 m (8,000 ft). Scotch pine is adapted to a wide variety of climates as indicated by its extremely large natural range. It grows in areas with an annual precipitation exceeding 1780 mm (70 in) and in areas with an annual precipitation as little as 200 mm (8 in).

Scotch pine is also the most widely planted pine introduced in North America. It is the preferred large-volume Christmas tree in the United States.  Approximately 30 percent of the 35 million Christmas trees harvested annually are Scotch pine. Scots pine's economic importance also consists of various products, among them: food flavoring; Environmental – agroforestry; ornamental; Materials: gum/resin; lipids; wood. (2)

Because it survives on poor dry sites, Scots pine has been used to control erosion in many areas. However, the poor vigor of many of these stands on dry, infertile sites has made them susceptible to serious insect attack and many of them have little potential to produce timber.

Scots pine has also been used to a large extent in ornamental plantings. It grows better than red pine on compacted clay soils frequently found around home sites. Because Christmas tree plantations are a ready source of trees, many trees are removed from these plantations as ornamental stock. Scotch pine is similar in fiber and wood characteristics to red pine and is usable for both pulpwood and saw logs. (1)

Pinus sylvestris
Flowering occurs in late May or early June. On any one tree nearly all pollen is shed and nearly all the female flowers are receptive during the same 2- or 3-day period. In any one stand most trees flower within a day or two of each other. Pollen production tends to be concentrated on short lateral twigs in the lower half of a tree crown. Female flowers are borne on the most vigorous shoots. They tend to be concentrated on upper branches but may occur in any part of the crown receiving full sunlight. (1)
Scots Pine Cones and Foliage Scots Pine Bark and Foliage
Damaging Agents- Scotch pine in North America is subject to a number of agents that can severely damage or kill the trees. Some of these agents are not present in Europe and Asia and, as a result, the species has not yet had an opportunity to develop genetic resistance.

Fire and wind can damage the trees. Young stands have thin bark and are heavily damaged by fire. Older trees with thicker bark are moderately resistant. Scotch pine has more branches per whorl than red or white pine and this large number of branches makes the tree weak at the nodes. During severe wind storms, trees may snap off at the nodes 3 to 6 m (10 to 20 ft) above the ground.

The pine root collar weevil (Hylobius radicis) is a major cause of tree death in young plantations in the Lake States. The weevil girdles the tree at the base, killing it within 3 to 4 years. The damage is especially severe on dry sandy soils. The fast-growing central European trees are particularly susceptible (26). In Michigan, on low quality sites, mortality frequently reaches 70 to 80 percent. The pine root tip weevil (Hylobius rhizophagus) causes serious damage in Michigan on Scotch pine Christmas trees grown from stump culture. These trees result from leaving the lower limbs on cut trees to grow into a second tree crop. The pine root tip weevil larvae feed on the roots and root tips, resulting in reduced height growth and flagged shoots, and eventual death. In some cases the pine root tip weevil and the pine root collar weevil attack some Scotch pine stands simultaneously, causing more mortality than expected from either insect alone [1].

26-year-old Scots Pine [3]
Waterer Scots Pine - Pinus sylvestris 'watereri'
Morton Arboretum accession 661-65*2 Waterer Scots Pine – Pinus sylvestris 'watereri'

1. USDA Forest Service Pinus sylvestris – Scotch Pine
2. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network
3. Scots pine, various Morton Arboretum specimens photos © Bruce Marlin
Tree Encyclopedia / North American Insects & Spiders is dedicated to providing scientific and educational resources for our users through use of large images and macro photographs of flora and fauna.

Tree Encyclopedia | Tree Index
Trees live longer than any other organism on earth. Trees commonly live more than 1,000 years, and many grow considerably older. Trees have been living on Earth for more than 370 million years, and today can be found almost everywhere from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara Desert. Explore over 2,000 large format pictures of trees in more than 400 species. Family Pinaceae: Pine, Cedar, Spruce, and Fir