Pinus lambertiana / sugar pine

subgenus Strobus (Lemmon), section Quinquefoliae (Duhamel), subsection Strobus (Loudon).

Pinus lambertiana, as described in 1827 by David Douglas (1798–1834), is commonly known as sugar pine, big or great sugar pine, as well as pino de azucar, or ocote in the Spanish language. The species name honors British botanist, Aylmer Bourke Lambert (1761 - 1842), one of the first fellows of the Linnean Society.


Description. Sugar pine is the largest species of pine, commonly growing to mature heights of 130 to 200 feet (40 – 60 meters), exceptionally up to 270 feet (82 m) tall, with a trunk diameter of 6 to 10 feet (1.5 - 2.5 m), measured at breast height, exceptionally to 14 feet (3.5 meters). The tallest specimen ever recorded was named "Yosemite Giant", at 269.2 feet (82.05 m) tall located in Yosemite National Park, California, which died from bark beetle attack in 2007. The tallest known living specimens today grow in southern Oregon and Yosemite National Park; one in Umpqua National Forest is 255 feet (77.7 m), and another in Siskyou National Forest is 253.5 feet (77.2 m) tall. Yosemite National Park has a sugar pine measured at 264.1 feet (80.5 m) tall as of June 2013. The tree was affected by the Rim Fire, but it survived.

Pinus lambertiana is a member of the white pine group, Pinus subgenus Strobus, and like all members of that group:

  • leaves (needles) are borne in bundles (fascicles) of five, with a deciduous sheath. They measure 2 to 4 inches (6–11 cm) long.
  • Sugar pine is notable for having the longest seed cones of any conifer, mostly 10 to 20 inches (25–50 cm) long, exceptionally up to 26 inches (66 cm) long, although it should be noted that the cones of the Coulter pine (Pinus coulteri) are more massive.
  • The seeds are up to 0.5 inch (10 – 12 mm) long, with a 0.75 inch (2 – 3 cm) long wing that aids wind dispersal. The seeds of the sugar pine are also a type of pine nut and are edible.
<em>Pinus lambertiana</em> -- natural range.
Pinus lambertiana -- natural range.

Distribution. The sugar pine occurs in the mountains of Oregon and California in the western United States, and Baja California in northwestern Mexico; specifically the Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, Coast Ranges, and Sierra San Pedro Martir.

Hardy to USDA Zone 7 — cold hardiness limit between 0° and 10°F (-17.7° and -12.2°C).

Attribution from: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Pinus lambertiana -- detail of needles and seed cones.
Photo by Richard Sniezko, US Forest Service
Pinus lambertiana, Icehouse Canyon, Cucamonga Wilderness, San Gabriel Mountains, California
Photo by MaterialScientist, via