Scots pine, Scotch pine, or Pinus sylvestris, is native to Europe and the only pine native to the UK.  In Britain it now occurs naturally only in Scotland, but historically it also occurred in Wales and England where it became extinct only a few centuries ago due to agricultural clearance. It has now, however, been re-introduced to England as well as exported to the rest of the world. The North America colonies sent many famous trees to the UK but Scots pine was one of England’s earliest exports to North America, arriving shortly after 1600. It succeeded so well, in fact, that parts of Canada and the United States consider it an invasive species even though it is a mainstay of the Christmas tree industry. Scots pine also made it to New Zealand and cool temperate Australia where it is also widely grown. 

A juvenile Scots pine might have almost any shape, as it can be extremely irregular. Its form becomes more impressive with maturity, gaining  a formal, conical outline. And with even greater age a Scots pine will lose its lower branches, revealing the plated, orange-hued trunk and an asymmetrical canopy of intricate branches. The two-needled foliage is dark, bluish green and quite handsome year-round. Of course its size limits its use somewhat. While it's far from being a Redwood or Sequoia, it is a medium to tall evergreen. But eventual height does seem difficult to determine. In certain European forests it has exceeded 150 feet while in the UK and Australia 60 feet is about average while in North America it is usually only found at 40 to 50 feet tall. So it is probably better suited to the larger urban properties and country properties. It's tough adaptability also makes it suitable as a street tree since it can tolerate compacted soils, pollution and salt-laden seashore conditions. It is also tolerant of drought as well as acidic and alkaline soils. All of which helps explain why it has also achieved an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

This Ice Age survivor is also a boon to wildlife who utilize it for food and habitat. There are also some impressive cultivars available, but those are usually only available at the best tree nurseries.

Scots pine


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