Pinus morrisonicola / Taiwan white pine

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

Pinus morrisonicola, first described in 1908 by Bunzō Hayata (1874–1934), is commonly known as Taiwan white pine; as well as台湾五针松 (Taiwan wuzhensong) in the Chinese language. The species name honors Taiwan's Mt. Morrison (now known as Yushan, or Mt. Yu), where the type specimen was collected.


Description. Taiwan white pine is an evergreen, coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 59 to 80 feet (15 - 25 m) with a trunk that is often crooked, measuring up to 48 inches (120 cm) in diameter, measured at breast height; and a conical crown.

  • Bark on the trunk is grayish brown to blackish brown in color, irregularly shallowly fissured or shallowly cracked. It is scaly; scales develop in tiered layers (the bark of young stems is grayish brown and smooth). Outer bark is about 0.24 inch (6 mm) thick, hard and brittle, lignified and corky, with a tiered, red-brown cross section.
  • Foliar buds are pale brown in color, ovoid shaped, and not resinous.
  • Leaves (needles) are borne in bundles of 5 to a fascicle, measuring 3.2 inches (8 cm) long, triangular in cross section, with 2 resin ducts.
  • Seed cones are borne in clusters of 3 or 4 at the base of branchlets, and are pedunculate (peduncle measures 0.2 to 0.4 inch / 0.5 - 1 cm), are ovoid to oblong-ovoid shaped, growing up to 4 inches (10 cm) long by 1.6 to 2 inches (4 - 5 cm) in diameter.
  • Cone scales are oblong-ovoid, with a rounded apex.
  • Seeds are winged, measuring about 0.8 inch (2 cm) long including the wing.
natural range of <em>Pinus morrisonicola </em>
natural range of Pinus morrisonicola

Distribution. This species is native to Taiwan, at altitudes of 1,000 to 7,500 feet (300 - 2,300 m) above sea level throughout the island, usually scattered and in association with broad-leaved trees, now scarce at lower elevations and mostly present at higher elevations and less accessible places.

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

Attribution from: Hui-Lin Li; Flora of Taiwan, V.1, parts 1-8; ©1975, Epoch Publishing, Taipei.

Pinus morrisonicola — foliage and seed cones in various stages of maturity.
Photo by Pavla Dvorská-Hochmanová
A stand of Pinus morrisonicola in habitat.
Photo by Pavla Dvorská-Hochmanová
Pinus morrisonicola — bark detail.
Photo by Kew Gardens, UK
Pinus morrisonicola — at UC Berkeley, USA.
Photo by Zoya Akulova


David Collom

Interested in obtaining Pinus morrisonicola seeds or small plant to develope as bonsai but have not found a supplier.

Maxwell Cohn

Good luck! The map above shows where you can go to try to collect seed. Taiwan is a very interesting place.

James Merryman

Dave Collom;
Keep in mind that P. morrisonicola is a subtropical species that requires cool winter temperatures but which cannot tolerate hard, prolonged, recurrent frosts. It has less densely tufted needles than most clones of the much more cold hardy P. parviflora.

I last saw seeds of P. morrisonicola offered by a western seed vendor in 1979. I agree with the previous commenter that Taiwan is a fascinating place well worth a visit if you wish to try collecting/purchasing P. morrisonicola seeds in the fall. If you haven't traveled around East Asia before, you may be very pleasantly surprised to discover how heavily forested and biodiverse most of this part of the world really is.

Taiwan has extensive areas of both subtropical and montane mild temperate forests, and P. morrisonicola is endemic to the latter. Although it is often planted/cultivated at low elevations, P. morrisonicola occurs naturally in mountainous regions where the climate best suits it, and where there is less competition from plants better adapted to lower elevation microclimates.

You may have already seen this, but if not, here is a link to an outstanding video of a bonsai show in Taiwan devoted to P. morrisonicola specimens: