Pinus densiflora 'Burke's Red Variegated' / Burke's Red Variegated Japanese red pine
Pinus densiflora 'Burkes Red Variegated' is a moderately fast growing, tree form of Japanese red pine with a broadly conical to spreading crown; uniform, species-typical branching; and very attractive "dragon's-eye" banding / variegation in the foliage. Be aware that the intensity of the foliage display is fully dependent on local weather. It is said that in parts of the worlds where cool springs are the norm, the banding will be muted to non-existent. This, and all dragon's eye pines tend to perform best in the north-central United States at the limits of their cold hardiness.
After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 10 to 15 (3 - 5 m) tall and nearly as wide, an annual growth rate of 12 to 18 inches (30 - 45 cm).
This cultivar originated as a seedling selected in the 1980s from a batch of Pinus densiflora 'Oculus Draconis' seedlings by Joe Burke of Long Island, New York. The legend behind the find is that the original seedling showed red banding, in addition to the normal yellow banding during its first, exceptionally cold winter. Unfortunately the red banding never reappeared in any plant anywhere, yet the name persisted.
Pinus densiflora 'Burke's Red Variegated' — a study of seasonal variation in a young plant in Denver, North Carolina.
Photo by Stephen Gibson