From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.; Family Pinaceae) is a common tree ranging from Great Britain and Spain east to eastern Siberia, and as far north as Lapland. It has also been widely planted in New Zealand and much of the colder regions of North America. In the past this species has also been known as "Scots fir"; the erroneous spelling "Scotch pine" is also occasionally seen.
It grows up to 35 m in height when mature. The cones are pointed ovoid in shape and are 3-7 cm in length. On mature trees the leaves ('needles') are a very attractive blue-green, 3-5 cm long and occur in pairs, but on young vigorous trees the leaves can be twice as long, and occasionally occur in threes and fours on the tips of strong shoots. The habit of the mature tree is distinctive due to its long, bare and straight bole topped by a flat-topped mass of foliage.
Numerous varieties have been described, but only three are now accepted, the typical var. sylvestris from Scotland and Spain to central Siberia, var. hamata in the Balkans, northern Turkey and the Caucasus, and var. mongolica in Mongolia and adjoining parts of southern Siberia and northwestern China. One other variety, var. nevadensis in southern Spain may also be distinct.
Scots pine is the National tree of Scotland, and is synonymous with the Caledonian Forest which once covered much of the Scottish Highlands. It is thought that climate change, fire, man's fear of wolves, demand for timber and overgrazing by sheep and deer have all been factors in the decline of this once great pine and birch forest. Nowadays only comparatively small areas of this ancient forest remain, the main surviving remnants being Glen Affric, Rothiemurchus, and the Black Wood of Rannoch.
Detailed image of the bole of a Scots pine