Austrian Pine

Pinus nigra
Pinaceae (pines)

A medium to large-sized, evergreen, needle-leaved conifer; young specimens have a conical or pyramidal shape, but mature trees develop majestic, rounded, flattened, spreading or domed crowns.

Leaves are needles 3–6 inches long, stiff, dark green, paired in their papery fascicles, persisting for 4–5 years.

Bark is furrowed, platelike, dark brown to black.

Twigs are light brown, smooth but not waxy-coated, turning gray with age.

Conifers don't "flower," but they do shed pollen; this species sheds pollen in March–April.

Fruits are oval cones, not curving, to 3 inches long, stalkless, yellowish-brown at maturity; the cone scales are somewhat shiny, with a tiny, usually curved spine at the tip.

Height: 40–60 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Austrian pine is a native of Eurasia but has been planted in America (as an ornamental or as a windbreak) for years. You are most likely to encounter it in lawns and other planted landscapes, though you might also find Austrian pines persisting at old abandoned home sites. If you are planting one, put it in deep, moist, well-drained soil in full sun. It can tolerate clay soil, urban conditions and (once established) some drought.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Used in landscaping statewide, but trees in one small population in St. Louis County were found reproducing; hence their official inclusion in the flora of our state.
Also called European black pine. This tree rarely spreads beyond its plantings and has been popular for landscaping for many years. However, a serious needle disease called Diplodia tip blight has infected many specimens, causing dieback of branches and, at times, death of the trees. Large infected trees are almost impossible to cure with fungicides. Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) is also susceptible to this problem.
Human connections: 
Pines, both native and introduced species, are significant nationwide for landscaping, timber, windbreaks, erosion control—and for Christmas trees! Only one species, the shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) is native to our state, but it, too, makes a huge economic contribution.
Ecosystem connections: 
Pines of all types provide habitat for birds and other wildlife, and a number of creatures, including squirrels and certain types of birds, eat the seeds. When ice storms come in winter, many birds can survive only by seeking shelter in the dense foliage of evergreen trees and bushes.
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