Plant of the month. December 2015 PINON PINE

Pines are a very hardy species of tree that can withstand extremes of temperature, moisture, humidity, and altitude. The Pinon Pine (Pinus edulis) is a great specimen to use in landscapes along the Front Range of Colorado. It is a bushy and broad, round evergreen with short, stiff needles and small cones with edible nuts. Growing natively in the southwest US and Mexico, Pinon Pine and the nuts have been harvested and used by native Americans for centuries.

There are two needle types for Pinon Pine, the single leaf or needle Pinon and the two-needle Pinon. The two needle Pinon is the species native to and mostly planted here in Colorado. There are eight species of Pinon altogether, including Mexican, Texas, Potosi, Hohann’s, Orizaba, and Parry.

Natively, Pinus edulis grows in the Pinon-Juniper woodland plant community, often mixed with Scrub Oak on the west slope of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, and west Texas. It is a small to medium sized tree that will grow 30-40’ tall over about 80 years and will fatten to 25’ or so.

Highly adapted to low moisture conditions, a Pinon, once established in the landscape will require little to no additional water other than natural rain and snow, unless it is subjected to strong winds and southwest sun exposure. Then some additional moisture twice a month might be helpful. They garner little respect in some formal landscapes, but a more natural or native landscape would be a perfect place to hide a few.

Try them in your landscape in that dry corner, or baking hot exposed area for some added evergreen privacy and winter texture. They can have quite a stunning effect if positioned appropriately in any Boulder Colorado landscape.