Monterey Pine, Pinus radiata

Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) is native to the Central coast of California and Mexico primarily the Guadalupe and Cedros Islands. The Monterey pine is planted extensively in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Kenya, and South Africa. The Monterey pine is closely related to the Bishop and Knobcone pine.

The Monterey pine is a short to medium tree growing from 49-98 feet tall with some growing to 200 feet tall in perfect growing conditions. The crown is rounded with the branches growing in an upward direction.  The bark is a dark dray to brown with deep grooves. The needles are bright green, grown in clusters of three and measure 3.1-5.9 inches long. Cones are oval and measure 2.8-6.7 inches long and are brown in color. The cones remain closed until exposed to fire at which time the cones open and release the seeds onto the burnt ground to germinate.

The Monterey Pine is planted all over the world with its rapid growth, and ability to grow straight trunks needed for high quality lumber. Once the wood is kiln dried, it is easy to work with and holds paint and stain well. Trees left growing in their natural habitats usually grow crooked becoming knotty and have a high resin content making it suitable for firewood only. The wood is used as posts, beams, or plywood, fencing, as well as for concrete forms and retaining walls. Left untreated it is used in boat making and chipped it is used to make particle board sheets.

The Monterey pine is susceptible to the Pine Pitch Canker which is threatening its existence in its natural habitat and plantations in places like New Zealand. Goats in Baja California nearly destroyed the population of Monterey Pine by feeding on the seedlings and causing soil erosion.
The Monarch butterfly makes it way to its winter location in the Pacific Grove where a Monterey Pine stand remains. In Australia, the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo feeds on the seeds of the pine.

Image Caption: Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata). Credit: Arturo Reina Sánchez/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)