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Pinus densiflora Sieb. & Zucc.

Japanese Red Pine

Modern name

Pinus densiflora Siebold & Zucc.

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, 212 to 4 in. long, slender, dark green on both surfaces, margins very minutely toothed; leaf-sheath 14 to 38 in. long, persistent, terminated often by one or two slender threads. Cones 112 to 2 in. long, 34 to 1 in. wide before expansion, conical, pointed; seed 14 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 212 to 334 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 × 534 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’.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

specimens: Leonardslee, Sussex, 75 × 414 ft (1984); Borde Hill, Sussex, 70 × 312 ft (1981); Priestwood (Harewood), Bucks., 62 × 312 ft (1984); Nuneham, Oxon., 66 × 812 ft (1978); Bicton, Devon, 52 × 614 ft (1977); Whitehills, Newton Stewart, Wigt., 52 × 4 ft (1984).

† P. taiwanensis Hayata – probably allied to P. densiflora, this makes a large tree in Formosa. Introduced around 1930, it is rarely planted in Britain but is represented by a small specimen at Borde Hill in Sussex.

Allied to P. taiwanensis is P. hwangshanensis Hsia, with a scattered distribution in eastern central China. Of recent introduction to Kew.



Other species in the genus