Nov 06 2012
When Northern Europe was deforested many centuries ago only one native pine survived: the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).
Beginning in the 1600’s when Europeans came to North America, they brought the Scots pine with them. No matter that eastern North America already had more than a dozen native pine species. They planted this one anyway.
Since then the Scots pine has had a checkered history on this continent. In some places it became invasive, in others it was stunted by poor growing conditions. During my childhood it was a popular Christmas tree.
Nowadays it grows naturally from Maine to Wisconsin to West Virginia. You’ll recognize it by its twisted trunk, rusty red bark near the top of the tree, and two needles per bundle.
The cones are fun to collect because they aren’t prickly. If you live within the Scots pine’s range, these are easy to find.
(photo by Didier Descouens, Museum of Toulouse France, from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)