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Plant type

Tree

Size

49 - 197 ft Tall
15 - 30 ft Wide

Form

Upright, Pyramidal, Rounded, Upright Columnar

Growth rate

Fast

Dormancy

Evergreen

Fragrance

Pleasant

Color

Yellow, Brown, Cream

Flowering season

Winter

Common uses

Bank stabilization, Containers

Pinus radiata, commonly known as Monterey Pine, is a coniferous evergreen tree growing to 50 - 100 ft in height in the wild, but up to 200 ft in cultivation in optimum conditions, with upward-pointing branches and a rounded top. The leaves ('needles') are bright green, in clusters of three (two in var. binata), slender, up to 3 inches long and having a blunt tip.

The cones are 3 to 6.5 inches long, brown, ovoid (egg-shaped), and usually set asymmetrically on a branch, attached at an oblique angle. The bark is fissured and dark grey to brown.

This pine is adapted to cope with stand-killing fire disturbance. Its cones are serotinous, that is, they remain closed until opened by the heat of a forest fire; the abundant seeds are then discharged to regenerate on the burned forest floor. The cones may also burst open in hot weather.

It is native to three very limited areas located in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo Counties in California, and also to Guadalupe and Cedros Islands in Mexico. Although Monterey Pine is extensively cultivated around the world for lumber, the version of the tree used in the lumber industry is vastly different from the native tree. In its natural state, Monterey Pine is a rare and endangered tree; it is twisted, knotty and full of sap/resin and not suitable for lumber.

In its native range, Monterey Pine is associated with a characteristic flora and fauna. It is the co-dominant canopy tree, together with Cupressus macrocarpa which naturally occurs only in coastal Monterey County.

One of the pine forests in Monterey was the discovery site for Hickman's potentilla, an endangered species. Piperia yadonii, a rare species of orchid is endemic to the same pine forest adjacent to Pebble Beach. In its native range, Monterey Pine is a principal host for the dwarf mistletoe Arceuthobium littorum. A remnant Monterey Pine stand in Pacific Grove is a prime wintering habitat of the Monarch butterfly.

Grow this plant only along the coast well within the coastal fog bank. In inland areas, it will grow fast if given water but typically dies after around five years.

Sun

Full Sun, Partial Shade

Water

Moderate

Summer irrigation

Max 2x / month once established

Ease of care

Easy

Cold tolerance

Tolerates cold to 10 - 20° F

Soil drainage

Fast

Soil description

Prefers sand or sandstone.
Soil PH: 4 - 7

Maintenance

Prune in winter when wood boring insects are less active.

Propagation

For propagating by seed: Fresh seeds need no treatment; 1 week stratification may improve germination. Stored seeds: 1-3 weeks stratification may improve germination (USDA Forest Service 1974).

Monterey Cypress (Hesperocyparis macrocarpa), Maritime Ceanothus (Ceanothus maritimus), Alumroot (Heuchera micrantha), Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata), Sticky Monkeyflower (Diplacus aurantiacus), Redflower Currant (Ribes sanguineum)

Maritime Ceanothus

Ceanothus maritimus

Bush Monkey Flower

Diplacus aurantiacus

Monterey Cypress

Hesperocyparis macrocarpa

Crevice Alumroot

Heuchera micrantha

Birds
Caterpillars
Pollinators

Butterflies and moths supported

10 confirmed and 70 likely

Confirmed Likely

Common Gray|Cranberry Spanworm

Anavitrinella pampinaria

Monterey Pine Needle Miner

Argyresthia pilatella

Orange Tortrix Moth

Argyrotaenia franciscana

Western Pine Elfin

Callophrys eryphon

Site type

Coastal bluffs and dunes, in the coastal fog belt

Plant communities

Closed-cone Pine Forest,