Pinus occidentalis / Hispaniola pine

subgenus Pinus, section Trifoliae (Duhamel), subsection Australes (Loudon).

Pinus occidentalis, first described in 1788 by Olof Peter Swartz (1760–1818), is commonly known as Hispaniola pine; as well as Pino criollo in the Spanish language. This conifer is native to western Hispaniola, hence the species name, Latin for "western").

Ethnobotany. This is the only pine found on the island of Hispaniola, where it was an important timber tree and supported an export market into the second quarter of the 20th century. It is now not faring well. Political anarchy in Haiti in the 1900s led to elimination of conservation measures and government regulation of forestry and then reckless depletion of the already much-reduced pine forests. Things are a little better in the Dominican Republic, but slash-and-burn subsistence agriculture by a rapidly growing population in both countries is eliminating forest land.


Description. Hispaniola pine is an evergreen coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 100 to 150 feet (30 - 45 m) with a trunk up to 40 to 60 inches (1 - 1.5 m) in diameter, measured at breast height; and an oval to bowl-shaped crown with upswept branches densely clothed with foliage at the tips.

  • Bark is grayish brown, thick and deeply furrowed between narrow, scaly, flat-topped ridges.
  • Twigs are hairless and brown in color beneath a waxy blush. They are rough in texture with the bases of scale leaves.
  • Foliar buds are 0.32 to 0.6 inch (8 - 15 mm) long and slightly resinous.
  • Leaves (needles) are borne in fascicles of 3 to 5 (sometimes 2 or up to 6). Each is 6 to 8 inches (15 - 20 cm) long, flexible and drooping, persisting on the tree for 2 to 3 years. Needles bear lines of stomata on both the inner and outer faces.
  • Foliar sheaths are 0.32 to 0.6 inch (8 - 15 mm) long, persisting for the life of the foliar unit.
  • Pollen cones are (10 -15 mm) long and brownish yellow in color.
  • Seed cones measure 2.4 to 3.6 inches (6 - 9 cm) long, and slightly asymmetrically ovoid in shape, green in color young, ripening to shiny dark brown, opening widely to shed seed, then persisting several years before falling with its 0.4 to 0.8 inch (1 - 2 cm) long peduncle.
  • Seed scales number 50 to 100 per cone. They are paddle-shaped, the exposed face horizontally diamond-shaped or 5-sided, crossed by a modest ridge, and topped by a small umbo with a stout, sharp prickle.
  • Seeds are 0.16 to 0.24 inch (4 - 6 mm) long with an easily detachable wing, 0.36 to 0.64 inch (9 - 16 mm) longer.
natural range of <em>Pinus occidentalis </em>
natural range of Pinus occidentalis

Distribution. This species is native to the island of Hispaniola — Haiti and the Dominican Republic; as well as eastern Cuba — Granma and Santiago de Cuba provenices; found growing at elevations of 650 - 10,000 feet (200 - 3,200 m) in mixed or pure stands.

Hardy to USDA Zone 9 — cold hardiness limit between 20° and 30°F (-6.6° and -1.1°C).

Attribution from: James E. Eckenwalder; Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference; ©2009, Timber Press, Portland, OR.

Pinus occidentalis growing in habitat at Pico Duarte, Desde La Pelona, Dominican Republic.
Photo by jvg19, via Wikipedia; Public Domain photo
Pinus occidentalis — bark detail.
Photo by Rick Fencl
Pinus occidentalis — mature trees in habitat.
Photo by Rick Fencl
Pinus occidentalis — foliage detail.
Photo by Rick Fencl
Pinus occidentalis — seed cones in situ.
Photo by Rick Fencl