Characteristics of Bunge’s Pine Tree (Pinus bungeana) in the Wild

Pinus bungeana
Bunge’s pine or White-barked pine (Pinus bungeana) in Chinese is called 白皮松 and in Japan is known as シロマ)ツ, which comes from northeastern and central China.

Pine bungeana grows in the mountains, often on limestone, in the north of its distribution, it also grows on acid soils. Bunge’s pine is found on the southern slopes at an elevation of 500-2150 m asl. The distribution area is assigned to hardiness zone 7 with a mean annual minimum temperature between 17.7 and 12.3 °C. These trees need a lot of light, so they grow in areas other species tend to avoid, especially flowering plants. Pinus Bungeana grows scattered and fused with Chinese Red Pine (Pinus tabuliformis).

In the IUCN Red List, Pinus bungeana is classified as not endangered due to its large range, highland presence, and low timber utilization. There is no evidence of population decline or preferred habitat.

Bunge’s pine is also often planted as an ornamental tree in classical gardens imitating the Chinese garden which symbolizes longevity. The skin is highly admired for the contrasting color accentuated by the peeling plates.

Traditionally, Bunge’s pine is grown in northern China and Korea for decoration in temples, palace gardens, cemeteries, and public spaces.

 

Characteristics of Bunge’s Pine Leaf

Pinus bungeana Leaf
Source: flickr.com/silverrain64

The needles grow into threes in a basal needle sheath 1-2 cm long, light green or slightly grayish in color, smooth, stiff, straight, 6-10 cm long, broad triangular cross-section, 2 mm thick, needle tip finely serrated, and tip pointed. There are faint stomatal lines on all sides of the needle. Three to seven large resin channels are formed. The needles stay on the tree for four to five years.

 

Characteristics of Bunge’s Pine Fruit

Pinus bungeana Fruit
Source: flickr.com/Plant Image Library

Pollen cones grow spirally in elongated clusters on young shoots in the axils of broad bracts. Pollen cones are ovoid in shape with a length of 1-1.5 cm. Seed cones grow erect or stand out singly, barely stems or on short stalks.

The seed cones are open, 5-7 cm long and 4-5 cm in diameter, ovate to rounded with a flat base. They are initially pale green in color and then turn light brown when ripe. Once the seeds are released, they remain on the tree for a year or two.

The number of seeds is between 30-50 wedge-shaped. Dull brown seeds are ovoid in shape with a length of 8-10 mm and a diameter of 5-6 mm. The wings of the seeds are 4-5 mm long and easily detach from the seeds.

 

Characteristics of Bunge’s Pine Tree

Pinus bungeana Tree
Source: flickr.com/Stephen Middleton

Bunge’s pine grows as an evergreen tree reaching a height of 25-30 meters. The stems reach up to 3 meters in diameter and often branch near the base.

The bark is smooth, hard, and sheds in thin, irregular scales showing light spots which then change from yellow-green to purplish-brown, forming a multicolored pattern on the trunk and large branches. The color of the bark becomes lighter as the tree ages and chalky white on older trees.

The branches are long, thin, ascending, forming a conical crown on young trees and a broad or flat crown on older trees. Young twigs are gray-green, shiny, and bare in the first year. Branches are thin needles and have gray-green bark, smooth, shiny, and hairless.

 

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