California pine

(Pinus monophylla)



Pinus monophylla, the single-leaf pinyon, (alternatively spelled piñon) is a pine in the pinyon pine group, native to North America. The range is in southernmost Idaho, western Utah, Arizona, southwest New Mexico, Nevada, eastern and southern California and northern Baja California. It occurs at moderate altitudes from 1,200 to 2,300 m (3,900 to 7,500 ft), rarely as low as 950 m (3,120 ft) and as high as 2,900 m (9,500 ft). It is widespread and often abundant in this region, forming extensive open woodlands, often mixed with junipers in the Pinyon-juniper woodland plant community. Single-leaf pinyon is the world's only one-needled pine. Pinus monophylla is a small to medium size tree, reaching 10–20 m (33–66 ft) tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 80 cm (31+1⁄2 in) rarely more. The bark is irregularly furrowed and scaly. The leaves ('needles') are, uniquely for a pine, usually single (not two or more in a fascicle, though trees with needles in pairs are found occasionally), stout, 4–6 cm (1+1⁄2–2+1⁄4 in) long, and grey-green to strongly glaucous blue-green, with stomata over the whole needle surface (and on both inner and outer surfaces of paired needles). The cones are acute-globose, the largest of the true pinyons, 4.5–8 cm (1+3⁄4–3+1⁄8 in) long and broad when closed, green at first, ripening yellow-buff when 18–20 months old, with only a small number of very thick scales, typically 8–20 fertile scales. The cones thus grow over a two-year (26-month) cycle, so that newer green and older, seed-bearing or open brown cones are on the tree at the same time. Pinus monophylla has been studied with regard to prehistoric occurrence based upon fossil needles found in packrat middens and fossil pollen records. All three of these sub-types of single-needled pinyon have maintained distinctive ranges over the last 40,000 years, although the northerly species (Pinus monophylla) expanded greatly throughout Utah and Nevada since the end of the Pleistocene, 11,700 years ago. The southern California variety has been found to occur within Joshua Tree National Park throughout the last 47,000 years.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Coniferophyta
Class: Pinopsida
News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day