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Pinus coulteri D. Don

Bigcone Pine

Modern name

Pinus coulteri D.Don

A tree 50 to 80 ft high, with a stout, erect trunk, 3 to 4 ft in thickness, whose bark is divided into deep broad ridges. Young shoots very thick, often glaucous, not downy; the terminal part carrying a cluster of crowded leaves, the lower part furnished with fringed, slender-pointed scales, 1 in. long. The older portions of the branchlet are rough with the remains of these scales, and the prominences on which the leaf-bundles were seated. Buds conical, resinous, slender-pointed, 112 in. long, 34 in. wide. Leaves in threes, falling the fourth year; 10 to 14 in. long, minutely toothed, grey-green, with lines of stomata on all three faces; leaf-sheaths persistent, 1 in. long. Cones 10 to 12 in. long, 5 to 7 in. thick; the scales terminated by a stout triangular spine.

Native of California; discovered by Dr Coulter in 1832; introduced by Douglas the same year. The cones of this remarkable pine are the heaviest and most formidably armed among three-leaved pines, but are not often borne in this country. It resembles P. ponderosa in leaf and shoot, but is a shorter tree with more spreading branches. The cones are very different, and more like those of P. sabiniana which, however, has smoother, more slender shoots, and greyer leaves. Coulter’s pine is not common in cultivation, but is very striking in its somewhat gaunt branching, its terminal bunches of leaves, spreading like a sweep’s brush, and its immense cones.

The following are some of the specimens recorded in recent years: Wakehurst Place, Sussex (Valley), 58 × 5 ft (1968); National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent, in Forest Plots, pl. 1935, 45 × 414 ft (1967), in pine collection, pl. 1926, 47 × 334 ft (1969); Royal Horticultural Society Garden, in Pinetum, 45 × 334 ft (1969); Dropmore, Bucks, pl. 1915, 56 × 714 ft (1970); Titley Court, Heref. (from Douglas introduction?), 98 × 1212 ft (1963); Edinburgh Botanic Garden, 59 × 434 ft (1970).

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

specimens: Wakehurst Place, Sussex, 66 × 634 ft (1979); Forest Research Station, Alice Holt, Hants, pl. 1952, 53 × 512 ft (1982); National Pinetum, Bedgebury, Kent, Forest Plots, pl. 1935, 60 × 512 ft and, Pine Collection, pl. 1926, 57 × 412 ft (1983); R.H.S. Garden, Wisley, Surrey, Pinetum, 42 × 412 ft (1983); Dropmore, Bucks., pl. 1915, this tree is dead; Westonbirt, Glos., pl. 1928, 66 × 614 ft (1984); Titley Court, Heref., this tree died 1970; Edinburgh Botanic Garden, 71 × 512 ft (1981); Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 82 × 712 ft (1980).



Other species in the genus