Pinus peuce / Macedonian pine

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

Pinus peuce, first described in 1847 by August Heinrich Rudolf Grisebach (1814–1879), is commonly known as Macedonian pine; as well as Бяла мура, Молика in the Bulgarian and Serbian language, as Βαλκανικό πεύκο in Greek, sosna Balkanskaya in Russian, Mazedonische kiefer in German, pin des Balcans in French, and as pino dei Balcani in Italian. The species name, peuce, is derived from the Greek work for "pine."

Ethnobotany. This is one of the most valuable conifer species in the Balkan Peninsula. Its durable wood is highly valued in construction, furniture production, wood-carving and cooperage. The tree is also exceptionally good at adapting to severe mountain climate conditions, which makes it a valuable species for afforestation on high terrain for protection against erosion. The local population use P. peuce resin to cure wounds, pectoral, skin and stomach diseases, varicose veins and other illnesses.

Macedonian pine is also a popular ornamental tree in parks and large gardens, giving reliable steady though not fast growth on a wide range of sites. It is very tolerant of severe winter cold, hardy down to at least -50°F (-45°C), and also of wind exposure. It is locally naturalized the Punkaharju of eastern Finland.

Description. Macedonian pine is an evergreen, coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 120 to 140 feet (35 - 40 m) with a trunk 20 to 60 inches (50 - 150 cm) in diameter, measured at breast height.

  • Bark on young trees is smooth and silvery gray in color, becoming darker and rough in middle age; very old trees have thick, brown square-fissured bark.
  • Branches are level in the tree's lower crown, becoming erect in upper crown and at ends of branches; high altitude trees tend to have more erect branches than at lower altitudes.
  • Shoots are uninodal, colored green when young, becoming gray-brown by end of first year. Texture is smooth and glabrous.
  • Leaves (needles) are borne 5 per fascicle, each measuring 1.8 to 4 inches (4.5 - 10 cm) long (not over 2.8 inches/7 cm on treeline trees). They are slender, 0.028 to 0.032 inch (0.7 - 0.8 mm) thick, colored glossy green on outer face with white stomatal lines on inner faces, margins are minutely serrulate. Foliar bundles are persistent for 2-5 years.
  • Foliar sheaths measure 0.4 to 0.6 inch (10 - 15 mm) lonig and is deciduous by end of first autumn.
  • Seed cones are pendulous, measuring 3.6 to 7.2 inches (9 - 18 cm) long. At treeline they are stunted, only 2 to 5.2 inches (5-13 cm). They are cylindric in shape, straight to slightly curved, green when young, ripening orange-brown, with adpressed to slightly incurved scales when the cone is closed, but never reflexed at the cone base as in P. monticola.
  • Cone scales are large, thin and fragile; apophyses are smoothly rounded, and 0.8 inch (20 mm) long. Uumbos are terminal, measuring 0.08 to 0.12 inch (2-3 mm), colored dark gray, and are unarmed. Cone peduncle measures 0.4 inch (1 cm), colored gray, and is 0.24 to 0.32 inch (6 - 8 mm) thick.
  • Seeds are gray-brown in color, measuring 0.28 to 0.32 inch (7 - 8 mm) with an adnate 0.56 to 0.88 inch (14 - 22 mm) wing; and are shed as soon as cones mature in October, 17-18 months after pollination.
natural range of <em>Pinus peuce </em>
natural range of Pinus peuce

Distribution. This species is native to Balkan peninsula — Yugoslavia, Macedonia, western Bulgaria, norther Greece, and Albania, found growing at elevations of 2,000 to 7,200 feet (600 - 2,200 m) above sea level, usually on north slopes, on siliceous soils, rarely on carbonate soils.

Hardy to USDA Zone 5 — cold hardiness limit between -20° and -10°F (-28.8°C and -23.3°C).

Attribution from: Branislav Jovanoviae; "Pinus peuce," in Flora Srbije; ©1986, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade.

Pinus peuce in Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum, Germany.
Photo by By BotBln - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Pinus peuce — foliage and immature seed cone detail.
Photo by vanikat on Flickr - Flickr
Pinus peuce — foliage and mature seed cone detail.
Photo by By BotBln - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Pinus peuce — bark detail.
Pinus peuce in native environment, Maliovitsa, Rila Mountains., Bulgaria.
Photo by Galliano, via Wikipedia; Public Domain photo