Pinus mugo 'Carstens' / Carstens mugo pine

Pinus mugo 'Carstens' is a small, dwarf selection of mugo pine. Overall its structure is cushion-shaped becoming a flattened globe with age. Needles are typical of the species and are a pleasant medium green in the summer, becoming a rich golden yellow in the winter. 'Carstens' is considered by many to be one of the best of the "winter-gold' pines. Another distinguishing feature is a late season push of shorter needles, creating the effect of a crown at the end of each terminal branch. After 10 years in the garden, a specimen to be mature at 18 to 24 inches (45 - 60 cm) wide and half as tall, suggesting an annual rate of growth of 1.5 to 2 inches (3.5 - 5 cm).

This cultivar originated as a special seedling selected in the mid-1980s by Erwin Carstens of Varel Germany; and introduced to the nursery trade in 1988 by Hachmann nursery, Barmstedt, Germany. Many nomenclatural errors exist for this cultivar, the most common of which is 'Carsten's Wintergold' which is incorrect on two counts — a misspelling of the Carstens family name and the addition of "Wintergold" which confuses this cultivar with P. mugo 'Winter Gold' which is another cultivar, entirely. This plant was one of three plants selected in 2013 for inclusion into the ACS Collectors' Conifer of the Year Program.

Pinus mugo 'Carstens' at the Smits Pinetum, Lottum, The Netherlands.
Photo by Edwin Smits