Pinus durangensis / Durango pine

subgenus Pinus, section Trifoliae (Duhamel), subsection Ponderosae (Louden).

Pinus durangensis, first described in 1942 by Maximino Martínez (1888–1964), is commonly known as Durango pine, as well is pino blanco or pino real in the Spanish language. It's populations are mostly abundant in the Mexican state of Durango, hence the species name.

Ethnobotany. This is one of Mexico's more important timber trees, and logging is a widespread and commercially important activity in its range. Jessy Perry reports that logging has greatly reduced its range. It is also locally used for firewood and carpentry.

Description. Durango pine is an evergreen coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 100 to 125 feet (30 - 40 m) tall with a trunk up to 20 to 32 inches (50 - 80 cm) in diameter, measured at breast height. The tree's crown is dense and pyramidal when young, becoming more rounded and shallow with age. Wood is light, soft, yellowish in color.

  • Branches are drooping to horizontal.
  • Bark is dark brown in color, rough, and longitudinally fissured into scaly plates.
  • Branchlets are thick, stiff, rough and scaly.
  • Leaves (needles) are borne in bundles 5 (occasionally up to 7 or 8) per fascicle. They measure 6 to 8 inches (15 - 20 cm) long and 0.32 to 0.36 inch (0.8 - 0.9 mm) wide. Needles are stiff and erect with finely serrate margins, colored shiny light-green to waxy Blue-green with stomata on all surfaces, and 2 to 3 (sometimes 4) medial resin canals.
  • Fascicle sheaths are 0.6 to 0.72 inch (15 - 18 mm) long, persistent for the life of the fascicle, brown in color and scaly.
  • Pollen cones are 0.6 to 1.2 inches (15 - 30 mm) long and brownish yellow in color.
  • Seed cones are usually borne in groups of 2 to 3, comprised of 75 - 120 seed scales, measuring 2 to 2.8 inches (50 - 70 mm) long, on 0.2 to 0.32 inch (5 - 8 mm) peduncles (appearing sessile). They mature in December and January and promptly open and disperse their seed, remaining on the tree for some months thereafter. When they fall, the peduncle and some few scales remain on the tree.
  • Cone scales are stiff and hard. Apophyses are raised, subpyramidal, transversely keeled, and slightly reflexed. Umbos are dorsal, gray, and raised, bearing a sharp, often recurved, persistent prickle.
  • Seeds are gray, measuring 0.2 to 0.28 inch (5-7 mm) long with a 0.48 to 0.6 inch (12 - 15 mm) long and 0.2 to 0.28 inch (5 - 7) wide articulate wing.
native range of <em>Pinus durangensis </em>
native range of Pinus durangensis

Distribution. This species is native to Mexico — eastern Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, northern Jalisco (where it is common), and scattered south through Jalisco and Michoacán. Its distribution is mainly through the northern Sierra Madre Occidental, where it occurs at elevations of 5.200 to 9.200 feet (1,600 - 2,800 m) above sea level. Rainfall is about 24 inches (600 mm) per year in Durango; probably more like 40 inches (1,000 mm) per year at the elevation where the pines are most abundant, falling mostly as rain but sometimes as snow.

Hardy to USDA Zone 8 — cold hardiness limit between 10° and 20°F (-12.1° and -6.7°C).

Attribution from: Jesse P. Perry; The pines of Mexico and Central America; ©1991, Timber Press, Portland, OR.

Pinus durangensis — a large tree in habitat in Durango, Mexico.
Photo by Jeff Bisbee
Pinus durangensis — bark detail.
Photo by Jeff Bisbee
Pinus durangensis — seed cone detail.
Photo by Jeff Bisbee
Pinus durangensis — foliage and immature seed cones.
Photo by Greenleaf nursery, NZ