Pinus pinceana / Pince piñon pine

subgenus Strobus (Lemmon), section Parrya (Mayr), subsection Rzedowskiae (Carvajal); one from a “primitive” group of piñon pines.

Pinus pinceana, first described in 1858 by George Gordon (1806–1879), is commonly known as Pince piñon pine, or weeping piñon; as well as pino piñonero-llorón in the Spanish language. The species name honors Robert T. Prince (ca. 1804 - 1871), a nurseryman specializing in fuchsias in Devon, United Kingdom; who has no apparent connection to this tree with the exception of it being named after him.

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Description. Pince piñon pine is an small, evergreen, coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 35 feet (10 m), though rarely more than 15 to 20 feet (5 - 6 m) tall with a trunk 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter, measured at breast height and a dense, rounded crown.

  • Bark is smooth, colored pale gray at first, becoming thinly scaly gray-brown at the bases of older trees.
  • Branching is irregular; branchlets are pendulous.
  • Leaves (needles ) are stiffly drooping, borne in fascicles of 3, and glossy, soft bright-green in color with inconspicuous bands of stomata. Each needle measures 2.4 to 4.8 inches (6 - 12 cm) and about 0.032 inch (0.8 mm) thick. Seedlings have only juvenile foliage for several years, with nodding white shoots and single, strongly glaucous, 1.2 inch (3 cm) long leaves.
  • Foliar sheaths are mostly deciduous, but smallest basal sheath scales often persist for the life of the foliar unit.
  • Seed cones are pendulous on slender peduncles, measuring 0.4 to 1.2 inches (1 - 3 cm) long and 0.12 inch (3 mm) thick; cylindric, 2.4 to 4.4 inches (6 - 11 cm) long, 1.6 to 2 inches (4 - 5 cm) broad, colored green when young, ripening bright orange and opening to 2 to 2.8 inches (5 - 7 cm) broad.
  • Cone scales are large, polygonal, smooth, and 0.8 to 1 inch (20 - 25 mm) broad. Apophyses are flat to weakly raised, with a flat 0.28 inch (7 mm) wide umbo.
  • Seeds are large, orange in color, each measuring 0.44 to 0.52 inch (11 - 13 mm) long with a vestigial wing, measuring 0.04 to 0.08 inch (1-2 mm) long, usually remaining attached to the scale when seed is removed. Seeds do not fall naturally from cone, but are dispersed by birds; after seed dispersal the cones fall with or without the peduncle. Cones mature in early November about 18-19 months after pollination.
natural range of <em>Pinus pinceana </em>
natural range of Pinus pinceana

Distribution. This species is native to Mexico — Coahuila, northern Zacatecas, San Luís Potosí, Querétaro and Hidalgo, fouind at elevations of 5,000 to 7,500 feet (1,500 - 2,300 m) above sea level. It is scarce and scattered in its natural habitat, in very open scrubland in very dry areas; usually growing mixed with P. cembroides and mixed xerophytic low scrub vegetation including cacti and agaves.

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

Attribution from: Jesse P. Perry; The Pines of Mexico and Central America; ©1991, Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

Pinus pinceana — trees in habitat near Cuahtemoc, Coahuila, Mexico.
Photo by Jeff Bisbee
Pinus pinceana — seed cone detail.
Photo by Jeff Bisbee
Pinus pinceana — a mature tree in habitat near Cuautemos, Mexico.
Photo by Michael P. Frankis
Pinus pinceana — trunk and foliage detail.
Photo by Michael P. Frankis
Pinus pinceana — a seedling showing juvenile foliage
Photo by Michael P. Frankis

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