Pinus Sylvestris (Scots Pine)
Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) is a species of pine that is native to Eurasia, ranging from Western Europe to Eastern Siberia, south to the Caucasus Mountains and Anatolia, and north to well inside the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia. In the north of its range, it occurs from sea level to 1,000 m, while in the south of its range it is a high altitude mountain tree, growing at 1,200–2,600 metres (3,900–8,500 ft) altitude. It is readily identified by its combination of fairly short, blue-green leaves and orange-red bark.
Pinus sylvestris is an evergreen coniferous tree growing up to 35 m in height and 1 m trunk diameter when mature, exceptionally to 45 metres (148 ft) tall and 1.7 metres (5 ft 7 in) trunk diameter and on very productive sites (in Estonia, there are some 220-year-old trees that are 46 metres (151 ft) tall in the forests of Järvselja). The bark is thick, scaly dark grey-brown on the lower trunk, and thin, flaky and orange on the upper trunk and branches. The habit of the mature tree is distinctive due to its long, bare and straight trunk topped by a rounded or flat-topped mass of foliage. The lifespan is normally 150–300 years, with the oldest recorded specimens in Lapland, Northern Finland over 760 years.
The shoots are light brown, with a spirally arranged scale-like pattern. On mature trees the leaves ('needles') are a glaucous blue-green, often darker green to dark yellow-green in winter, 2.5–5 centimetres (0.98–1.97 in) long and 1–2 millimetres (0.039–0.079 in) broad, produced in fascicles of two with a persistent grey 5–10 millimetres (0.20–0.39 in) basal sheath. On vigorous young trees the leaves can be twice as long, and occasionally occur in fascicles of three or four on the tips of strong shoots. Leaf persistence varies from two to four years in warmer climates, and up to nine years in subarctic regions. Seedlings up to one year old bear juvenile leaves; these are single (not in pairs), 2–3 cm long, flattened, with a serrated margin.
Cultivation and uses
Scots pine is an important tree in forestry. The wood is used for pulp and sawn timber products. A seedling stand can be created by planting, sowing, or natural regeneration. Commercial plantation rotations vary between 50 and 120 years, with longer rotations in northeastern areas where growth is slower.
In Scandinavian countries, Scots pine was used for making tar in the preindustrial age. Some active tar producers still exist, but mostly the industry has ceased. The pine has also been used as a source of rosin and turpentine.
The wood is pale brown to red-brown, and used for general construction work. It has a dry density around 470 kg/m3 (varying with growth conditions), an open porosity of 60%, a fibre saturation point of 0.25 kg/kg, and a saturation moisture content of 1.60 kg/kg. Scots pine fibres are used to make the textile known as vegetable flannel, which has a hemp-like appearance, but with a tighter, softer texture.
Scots pine has also been widely planted in New Zealand and much of the colder regions of North America; it was one of the first trees introduced to North America, in about 1600. It is listed as an invasive species in some areas there, including Ontario, Michigan and Wisconsin. It has been widely used in the United States for the Christmas tree trade, and was one of the most popular Christmas trees from the 1950s through the 1980s. It remains popular for that usage, though it has been eclipsed in popularity, by such species as Fraser fir, Douglas-fir, and others. Despite its invasiveness in parts of eastern North America, Scots pine does not often grow well there, partly due to climate and soil differences between its native habitat and that of North America, and partly due to damage by pests and diseases; the tree often grows in a twisted, haphazard manner if not tended to (as they are in the Christmas tree trade). Scots pines may be killed by the pine wood nematode, which causes pine wilt disease. The nematode most often attacks trees that are at least ten years old and often kills invaded trees within a few weeks.