Austrian Pine, Pinus nigra

Austrian pine (Pinus nigra), also known as the European Black Pine, grows in southern Mediterranean Europe from Spain to the Crimea, in Asia Minor and on Corsica/Cyprus. This pine can also be found in North Africa in the high mountains. The Austrian pine grows from sea level up to 6,600 feet and is most prevalent at the 820 – 5,200 foot level. This tree is considered to be an invasive species in New Zealand.

The Austrian pine is an evergreen growing 66-180 feet tall growing as much as 12-28 inches per year and can live over 500 years. The bark is grey to yellow-brown with flaking fissures splitting into scaly plates. This pine grows in a round cone shape becoming odd shaped with age. Cones appear in May and June with mature cones measure 1.96-3.93 inches long with rounded scales. The cones are green when immature and ripen to pale grey-buff or yellow-buff 18 months after pollination. The seeds spread in the wind when the cones open in September. The seeds are dark grey, 0.23-0.31 inches long, with a yellow-buff wing measuring 0.78-0.98 inches long. The needles are stiff and grow in bundles of two, 2-4 inches long.

The Austrian pine tolerates city pollution as well as seaside conditions and grows in alkaline and clay soil. This tree is also tolerant to heat and drought and can withstand temperatures as lows as -22 Fahrenheit in the east and -13 Fahrenheit in the west provinces of Europe.

The Austrian pine was introduced to the United States in 1759 with over 217 million trees planted and has thrived for over 200 years.

The wood of the Austrian pine is moderately hard and straight-grained. Uses for the Austrian pine include use in general construction, used as a fuel, as well as used in the production of paper. In the United States, the pine is used as a windbreak on farms as wells as being used in landscapes in parks, along streets, and in residential settings as an ornamental.

In the United Kingdom, the red-band needle blight disease has attacked the Austrian pine. An out-of-control fungus called Dothistroma septosporum is killing the pines in the United States.

Image Caption: Austrian pine (Pinus nigra). Credit: Gvm/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)