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Pinus L.

Pine Trees

David S. Gernandt, Aaron Liston, and Robert A. Price
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taxon links [up-->]subgenus Strobus [up-->]subgenus Pinus [down<--]Pinaceae Interpreting the tree
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Containing group: Pinaceae


Pinus, with over 100 species, is the largest genus of conifers and the most widespread genus of trees in the Northern Hemisphere. The natural distribution of pines ranges from arctic and subarctic regions of Eurasia and North America south to subtropical and tropical (usually montane) regions of Central America and Asia. Pines are also extensively planted in temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere. Many pines are fast growing species tolerant of poor soils and relatively arid conditions, making them popular in reforestation. Important pine products include wood, turpentine, and edible seeds.

Pines have a relatively rich fossil record dating back to the Early Cretaceous, 130 million years ago (reviewed in Axelrod 1986; Klaus 1989; Van der Burgh 1973; Millar 1993).

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

Most classifications of Pinus recognize two major lineages: subgenus Strobus (haploxylon or soft pines, with one fibrovascular bundle in the needle) and subgenus Pinus (diploxylon or hard pines, with two fibrovascular bundles in the needles). This division is consistent with data from wood anatomy and secondary chemistry, and is supported in recent molecular phylogenetic studies (Strauss & Doerksen 1990; Wang & Szmidt 1993; reviewed in Price et al., 1998). The Vietnamese species, P. krempfii possesses unusual flattened needles and a unique wood anatomy. Based on these distinctive features, the species was considered a third subgenus in the influential classification of Little & Critchfield (1969). On the other hand, secondary product chemistry (Erdtman et al. 1966), nuclear ribosomal DNA (Liston et al. 2003) and chloroplast DNA sequences (Wang et al. 1999; Gernandt et al. in press) indicate that P. krempfii should be considered a member of subgenus Strobus.

Other Names for Pinus L.


Axelrod, D. I. 1986. Cenozoic history of some western American pines. Ann. Mo. Bot. Gard. 73: 565-641.

Erdtman, H., B. Kimland, and T. Norin. 1966. Wood constituents of Ducampopinus krempfii (Lecomte) Chevalier (Pinus krempfii Lecomte). Phytochemistry 5: 927-931.

Farjon, A. 1984. Pines: Drawings and Descriptions of the Genus. E.J. Leiden, Netherlands: E.J Brill and W. Backhuys.

Gernandt, D. S., G. Geada López, S. Ortiz García, and A. Liston. 2005. Phylogeny and classification of Pinus. Taxon 54: 29-42.

Klaus, W. 1989. Mediterranean pines and their history. Plant Systematics and Evolution 162: 133-163.

Liston, A., D. S. Gernandt, T. F. Vining, C. T. Campbell, and D. Piñero. 2003. Molecular phylogeny of Pinaceae and Pinus. Pp. 107-114 in Mill, R.R. (ed.), Proceedings of the 4th Conifer Congress. Acta Hort 615.

Little, E. L. Jr., and W. B. Critchfield. 1969. Subdivisions of the genus Pinus (pines). USDA Forest Service Misc. publ. 1144.

Millar, C. I. 1993. Impact of the Eocene on the evolution of Pinus L. Ann. Mo. Bot. Gard. 80: 471-498.

Mirov, N. T. 1967. The Genus Pinus. New York: Ronald Press

Price, R. A., A. Liston, and S. H. Strauss. 1998. Phylogeny and systematics of Pinus. Pp. 49-68 in: Richardson, D.M. (ed.), Ecology and Biogeography of Pinus. Cambridge University Press.

Strauss, S. H. and A. H. Doerksen. 1990. Restriction fragment analysis of pine phylogeny. Evolution 44: 1081-1096.

Van der Burgh, J. 1973. Holzer der niederrheinischen Braunkohlenformation, 2. Holzer der Braunkohlengruben "Maria Theresia" zu Herzogenrath, "Zukunft West" zu Eschweiler und "Victor" (Zulpich Mitte) zu Zulpich. Nebst einer systematisch-anatomischen Bearbeitung der Gattung Pinus L. Review of Paleobotany and Palynology 15: 73-275.

Wang, X.-R. and A. E. Szmidt. 1993. Chloroplast DNA-based phylogeny of Asian Pinus species (Pinaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 188: 197-211.

Wang, X.-R., Y. Tsumura, H. Yoshimaru, K. Nagasaka and A. E. Szmidt. 1999. Phylogenetic relationships of Eurasian pines (Pinus, Pinaceae) based on chloroplast rbcL, matK, rpl20-rps18 spacer, and trnV intron sequences. Amer. J. Bot. 86: 1742--1753.

Information on the Internet

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Pinus canariensis
Location Tenerife, Spain
Copyright © Aaron Liston
Scientific Name Pinus monticola
Body Part ovulate cone
Copyright © Aaron Liston
Scientific Name Pinus contorta
Body Part ovulate cone
Copyright © Aaron Liston
Scientific Name Pinus roxburghii
Location Uttarakhand, India
Comments Chir pine (pinus roxburghii) is common in the area, but nothing much grows alongside or in the understory of this plant.
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Source Chir Pine (Pinus roxburghii)
Source Collection Flickr
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License - Version 2.0.
Copyright © 2008 Trees ForTheFuture
Scientific Name Pinus krempfii
Body Part flattened leaves
Copyright © Aaron Liston
About This Page

David S. Gernandt
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Aaron Liston
Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Robert A. Price
University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to David S. Gernandt at

All Rights Reserved.

Citing this page:

Gernandt, David S., Aaron Liston, and Robert A. Price. 2004. Pinus L.. Pine Trees. Version 24 November 2004 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Pinus/21626/2004.11.24 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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