A tree 100 to 120 ft high in Japan, with a trunk 3 to 4 ft through; bark of trunk reddish, scaling; young shoots blue-white, glabrous; buds cylindrical, brown, resinous. Leaves in pairs, falling the third year, 21⁄2 to 4 in. long, slender, dark green on both surfaces, margins very minutely toothed; leaf-sheath 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. long, persistent, terminated often by one or two slender threads. Cones 11⁄2 to 2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 1 in. wide before expansion, conical, pointed; seed 1⁄4 in. long, with a wing about thrice as long.
Native of Japan, Korea, and parts of China; introduced by Siebold from Japan in 1854. In that country it is a useful timber tree, filling much the same place in the flora there that the Scots pine does in Europe. It is one of the favourite plants upon which the Japanese gardeners exercise their dwarfing arts. The species is not likely to have any timber value with us. It resembles P. sylvestris in the resinous buds and reddish trunk, but is very different in general appearance, the leaves being green (not grey) and the young shoots glaucous (not green).
All the existing trees in Britain were planted this century and are mostly 35 to 50 ft in height and 21⁄2 to 33⁄4 ft in girth. There are trees in this range of size in the National Pinetum, Bedgebury; at Wakehurst Place, Sussex; Westonbirt, Glos.; and in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden. A tree at Bicton in Devon is 48 × 53⁄4 ft (1968).
cv. ‘Aurea’. – This behaves like P. sylvestris ‘Aurea’ in the leaves turning yellow in autumn and winter, changing to green again in spring and summer. Originally distributed as “P. massoniana aurea”.
cv. ‘Umbraculifera’. – A very attractive Japanese garden variety, making a small, dense tabular shrub at first, but eventually a miniature, many-stemmed tree with a flat or mushroom-like crown and 10 ft or slightly more high. The cones are much smaller than in the wild trees. It is known in Japan as ‘Tanyosho’.