Pinus contorta var. contorta

A trip to the Shorepine Bog Trail in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve did not yield the hoped-for sighting of the introduced Darlingtonia californica (seen as recently as last year, and introduced over ten years ago). I’ll excuse it on being too early in the season, given the hesitating spring. I am a bit curious as to why Parks Canada staff allow the plants to persist, given that they are non-native in many definitions of that term, but perhaps they are doing some long-term monitoring.

It was, however, an opportunity to enjoy the natural “bonsai” of the shore pines in the area. The boggy area is much smaller in extent than Burns Bog, so it is far more difficult to isolate individual plants from the background–I opted for a texture photograph of the landscape instead.

Pinus contorta has 3 or 4 varieties depending on the taxonomic reference. Variety contorta, the shore pine, is described in the Silvics of North America: “The thick-barked trees are relatively small, short-lived, and inherently branchy. Now mostly confined to marginal sites (muskegs, dunes, serpentine soils, rocky sites), this race pioneered forest succession in the Pacific Coast region at the end of the lce Age. Needles are short, rather narrow, and have more stomata per unit area than the leaves of inland races. Flowering is abundant, and female strobili tend to mature earlier than the male. The cones are reflexed and persistent. Cones usually open not long after they mature, but serotiny is increasingly common toward the interior. Seeds are small to medium-sized, and germination is slower than that of the interior races. Early height growth nearly always is faster than that of inland populations at the same latitude. Local variations include a chemically distinctive northern muskeg ecotype extending south to western Washington.”

Pinus contorta var. contorta is one of the Great Plant Picks for local gardeners.

Pinus contorta var. contorta

10 responses to “Pinus contorta var. contorta”

  1. Melissa Caspary

    I LOVE botany photo of the day. It always brightens my day. Thank you so much for taking the time to share.

  2. Leslie Holmes

    Eee! I’ve been so snotty about these. Always preferring my Pseudotsuga menziesii. They’re growing on me, these contortas and ponderosas. Nice lighting in this photo.

  3. Elizabeth Revell

    In the late 19th century clever forestry types brought Lodgepole pine and Monterey pine (P. radiata) to New Zealand … much to our conservationary regret today. We still use P. radiata in forestry work; but contorta is a huge pest in our montane tussocklands, with huge volunteer efforts to try and eradicate it. One country’s meat being another’s disaster …

  4. MtShastaLaurel

    Darlingtonia californica also grow on the far side of Castle Lake, where they have a view of Mt. Shasta. The mention of it brings back wonderful and sad memories of my Dad. He died a year ago, but always enjoyed sharing his favorite plants, and Darlingtonia was one of them.

  5. Eric in SF

    Elizabeth – that’s OK, we brought Eucalyptus globulus to California for timber before anyone realized that species is a horrible timber tree. Now we can’t get rid of it, and worse, we have whole groups of people dedicated to SAVING the tree. It contributes to increased wildfire intensity – it was a major burn component in the deadly 1991 Oakland Hills fire, for example.

  6. Doug

    It looks like the same tree growing in the Oregon dunes area between the sand dunes and the beach scrub. It drips lots of sap, which is great for starting camp fires or collecting for use as incense.
    Just about a mile North of Florence Oregon is the Darlingtonia State Botanical Wayside, which offers a beautiful boardwalk through a sea of pitcher plants.

  7. Hollis Marriott

    a more visually-appealing Pinus contorta than ours! (Rockies) — I like the lighting on the needles.

  8. elizabeth a airhart

    after the day in the south here in the states
    it’s good to see trees standing with leaves and
    bark intact and not blown a hundred miles away
    fine picture of the day thank you daniel and company

  9. Michael F

    Pinus contorta has 3 or 4 varieties depending on the taxonomic reference”

    The three main taxa are better treated as subspecies, not varieties, given the substantial ecological differences between them. This was the clear conclusion of Critchfield’s detailed monograph of the species. For discussion, see the Gymnosperm Database account of Pinus contorta

  10. Elizabeth Revell

    Eric, I do so agree. And after all, what is a weed but a happy plant absolutely flourishing in the wrong place! For you the Eucalypts, and for us the Lodgepole pine, and for Capetown it’s our precious Pohutukawa (Metrosideros robusta) which is proving a pernicious invader … I seem to remember hearing something about Ecuador having some serious problems with Eucalypts, too. And of course Australia struggles with “Patterson’s Curse”.

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