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Pinus edulis (Pinyon Pine)

Colorado Pinyon, Colorado Pinyon Pine, Nut Pine, Pino Dulce, Pinyon Pine, Two-leaf Pinyon, Two-needle Pine, Pinus cembroides var. edulis

Pinus edulis , Colorado Pinyon, Colorado Pinyon Pine Nut Pine, Pino Dulce, Pinyon Pine, Two-leaf Pinyon, Two-needle Pine
Pinus edulis , Colorado Pinyon, Colorado Pinyon Pine Nut Pine, Pino Dulce, Pinyon Pine, Two-leaf Pinyon, Two-needle Pine

Pinus edulis, or Pinyon pine, is a small to medium-sized evergreen native to southwestern North America. This resilient tree grows slowly, reaching up to 20 feet (6 meters) in height. It exhibits an irregularly rounded crown that can either spread or be flat-topped, depending on the age of the tree. Young trees have broad, conical crowns that gradually transform into spreading or flat-topped shapes as they mature. Its foliage consists of short, dense, needle-like leaves grouped in pairs. Pinyon pines produce small, brown, edible seeds, known as pine nuts, encased in woody cones. They’re celebrated for their drought tolerance, making them well-suited to arid, rocky conditions. The Pinyon pine is also a crucial part of the ecosystem, providing food and shelter to various wildlife species.

Pinus edulis (Pinyon Pine)

Size: Mature Pinyon pines typically reach a height of 10-20 feet (3-6 meters) and a spread of 12-35 feet (3.5-10.5 meters). However, under optimal conditions, they can grow taller.

Foliage: The Pinyon pine has needles in bundles of two, which gives it its alternative name, the two-needle piñon. The needles are gray-green and are 1 to 2 inches (1-5 cm) long.

Cones: The tree produces both male and female cones; the male cones are yellow and small, while the female cones are green when young, turning brown as they mature. Cone production generally occurs from April to July, depending on the climate.

Bark: In young trees, the bark is smooth and light gray, but as the tree matures, it becomes darker and develops furrows and scales. The color of the bark can range from gray to reddish-brown, adding to the tree’s visual appeal. The distinctive bark of Pinus edulis is one of its identifying features, along with its compact size and the edible piñon nuts it produces.

Hardiness: Pinyon pines are very hardy and can tolerate USDA hardiness zones 6-8.

Uses: Pinyon pines are used in landscapes for their attractive form and dense canopy. They are also highly valued for their edible nuts (piñon nuts), which are harvested and used in a variety of dishes.

Pollinators: Pinyon pines are wind-pollinated and do not typically attract insect pollinators. Birds eat the seeds.

Toxicity: The tree is not considered toxic to humans or animals. The seeds or nuts are edible and are harvested as a food source.

Deer and Rabbit: Deer and rabbits usually leave this tree alone, but in severe conditions where food sources are limited, they might nibble on the bark or foliage.

Drought: Pinyon pines are highly drought-tolerant once established, making them an excellent choice for xeriscaping and water-conserving landscapes.

Native: Pinyon pine is native to the southwestern United States, specifically the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Texas. It is also found in northern Mexico, primarily in the states of Chihuahua and Sonora.

Key Facts: Pinyon pines have a symbiotic relationship with the Pinyon Jay, which eats and disperses the tree’s seeds. The tree also plays a significant role in the region’s ecology, providing habitat and food for a variety of wildlife. They’re known for their longevity, with some trees living for hundreds of years.

How to Grow

Growing Pinus edulis, or Pinyon pine, requires patience as it is a slow-growing tree, but its resilience and adaptability make it worth the wait. Here’s how you can grow your own Pinyon pine:

Selecting a Location: Pinyon pines are adaptable to a variety of soils, but they prefer well-draining soil. The tree requires full sunlight, so select a location with plenty of sun. Provide a sheltered location. This tree is susceptible to wind damage.

Planting: The best time to plant a Pinyon pine is in late winter or early spring. Dig a hole about three times the width and just as deep as the root ball. Place the tree in the hole, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Backfill with the removed soil.

Watering: After planting, water the tree thoroughly. Pinyon pines are drought-tolerant, so they don’t need frequent watering. However, during the first few years after planting, water regularly to help establish the root system. Once established, water sparingly as the tree can withstand dry conditions.

Mulching: Applying a layer of mulch around the base of the tree can help retain soil moisture and control weed growth. Be sure to keep the mulch away from the tree trunk to prevent rot.

Pruning: Pinyon pines don’t typically require much pruning. If necessary, remove dead, diseased, or damaged branches to maintain the tree’s health.

Fertilizing: In general, Pinyon pines do not require additional fertilization. If your soil is very poor, consider using a slow-release, balanced fertilizer.

Monitoring for Pests and Diseases: Pinyon pines can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases, including bark beetles and blister rust. Keep an eye out for signs of these issues and manage them promptly to protect the tree’s health.

Remember, Pinyon pines grow slowly and can live for hundreds of years, so it’s a tree that truly grows with time. Provide it with the right conditions, and it can become a durable, beautiful part of your landscape.

Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Pinaceae
Genus Pinus
Common names Pinyon Pine, Pine
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 10' - 20'
(3m - 6.1m)
Spread 12' - 35'
(3.7m - 10.7m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, California, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado
Tolerance Deer, Dry Soil, Drought
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Gravel and Rock Garden
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Pinus eldarica (Afghan Pine)
Pinus strobus ‘Contorta’ (Eastern White Pine)
Pinus sabiniana (California Foothill Pine)
Pinus rigida (Pitch Pine)
Pinus pungens (Table Mountain Pine)
Pinus elliottii (Slash Pine)

Recommended Companion Plants

Purshia tridentata (Antelope Bitterbrush)
Artemisia tridentata (Big Sagebrush)
Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Grama)

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 6 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Pinaceae
Genus Pinus
Common names Pinyon Pine, Pine
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 10' - 20'
(3m - 6.1m)
Spread 12' - 35'
(3.7m - 10.7m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Fruit & Berries
Native Plants United States, California, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado
Tolerance Deer, Dry Soil, Drought
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Gravel and Rock Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Pinus (Pine)
Not sure which Pinus (Pine) to pick?
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