Pinus parviflora 'Glauca' / blue Japanese white pine

Pinus parviflora 'Glauca' is a relatively small, broadly upright tree form of Japanese white pine with silver-blue curved needles. In spring young seed cones often appear like tiny red flowers at the branch tips. After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 12 to 15 feet (4 - 5 m) tall and wide, annual growth rate of 12 to 18 inches (30 - 45 cm).

This cultivar originated long ago in Japan. The name was originally published in 1909 by Ludwig Beissner in Handbuch der Nadelhölzekunde. This conifer is very popular and widely planted in landscapes worldwide. Since Pinus parviflora often produces exceptionally blue seedlings, it is highly probable that more than one clone can be implicated as the source of various plants in the nursery trade. Because of this, it's probably inappropriate for 'Glauca' to continue in use as a proper cultivar name in this species. We should rather use, Pinus parviflora var. glauca to account for the various genetic ancestry of plants now in cultivation.

Pinus parviflora 'Glauca' — planted in the late 1980s in eastern Pennsylvania as a 30-inch balled-and-burlaped nursery specimen. This plant has never been pruned or manipulated in any way.
Photo by Phin Tuthill
Pinus parviflora 'Glauca' Photographed by David in his Kansas garden, USA during October of 2006.
Photo by David Stegmaier
Close-up of foliage
Photo by David Marsh


Phin Tuthill

Pinus parviflora 'Glauca' / Glauca Group:
Somewhat recently 'Glauca' no longer became a cultivar but a "group" according to the Missouri Botanical Garden web site. For the almost 40 years I've been in the nursery trade, we've had 'Glauca' for sale. And 'Glauca' is listed on this site, although with the comment that several strains exist. Can someone tell me if 'Glauca' became some other cultivar or cultivars and what they might be? We certainly have many to choose from. Thank you.

Maxwell Cohn

Hi Phin, see the explanation above. While it's inappropriate to spontaneously rename cultivars (not to say it's never done), when it's obvious that numerous clones can be implicated as a source for a particular plant, it's best to relegate the cultivar to varietal status. In this case, Pinus parviflora 'Glauca' would be better listed as Pinus parviflora var. glauca. At this time, the botanical community has not adopted this change.