Mountain Pine, Pinus mugo

Mountain pine (Pinus mugo) is found in the mountains of Central Europe. The mountain pine is a short, stubby, slow growing tree. The mountain pine can be found in the Alps, northern Apennines and the Balkan Peninsula mountains. The pine grows at altitudes of 3,281-7,218 feet. The mountain pine may also be found growing at 656 feet in Germany and Poland and as high as 8,858 feet in Bulgaria and in the Pyrenees. The mountain pine is also considered an invasive species and has spread in the high country of New Zealand.

There are two subspecies of the mountain pine, Pinus mugo subsp. Mugo and Pinus mugo subsp. Uncinata. The subspecies mugo grows in the southern and eastern Alps as a multi-stemmed tree growing 10-20 feet tall. The cones of this species is shaped evenly all the way around.

The subspecies uncinata is a single-stemmed tree growing to heights of 66 feet and grows in Pyrenees northeast to Poland. The cones of this species are irregularly shaped with scales thick on the upper side and thin on the lower side.

The cones of both species grow from 0.98-2.1 inches long and are nut-brown in color. The needles grow in pairs and measures 1.18-2.75 inches long.

The Pinus mugo rostrata is another subspecies that grows at the edge of the timberline in the Pyrenees.

Smaller mountain pines can be seen growing around the perimeters of homes, under windows and around drainpipes, as deterrents for break-ins, as the needles are sharp. The buds and cones of the mountain pine is also used for culinary purposes. The buds and cones produce syrup as they dry over the summer which is boiled down and with sugar added makes pine syrup that is served in restaurants.

Image Caption: Cones of a Mountain pine (Pinus mugo). Credit: Maximilian Bühn/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, 1.0)