Pinus taiwanensis / Taiwan red pine

subgenus Pinus, section, Pinus, subsection Pinus. This is one of the “classic” old-world, 2-needled, hard pines.

Pinus taiwanensis, as described in 1911 by Bunzō Hayata (1874–1934), in Journal of the College of Science, Imperial University of Tokyo vol. 30(1), is commonly known as Taiwan red pine; as well as 黄山松 (Taiwan song) in the Chinese language. The species name describes this conifer's place of origin, the island of Taiwan.

Ethnobotany. It is an important timber tree in Taiwan.


Description. Taiwan red pine is an evergreen, coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 165 feet (50 m); with a straight to more-or-less tortuous trunk, up to 3 feet (1 m) in diameter, measuring at breast height; and a broadly ovoid crown, that becomes umbrella-like with age.

  • Bark dark gray or grayish brown in color.
  • Branches grow spreading or spreading-ascending; 1st-year branchlets are slender and brown to yellowish brown in color.
  • Foliar buds are pinkish brown or reddish brown in color, cylindric, ovoid-ellipsoid, or ovoid shaped, measuring 0.4 to 0.6 inch (1 - 1.5 cm) long by 0.2 to 0.24 inch (5 - 6 mm) wide, Buds are resinous, with scales that are white or long white, fringed at the margins.
  • Leaves (needles) are borne 2 per fascicle, and are glossy dark green in color, growing straight or with a slight twist, each measuring 1.8 to 6.8 inches (4.5 - 17 cm) long by 0.024 to 0.04 inch (0.6 - 1 mm) thick, with serrulate margins, including 26 to 57 teeth per centimeter in middle part of needle. Needle bases include foliar sheaths that measure 0.2 to 0.56 inch (0.5 - 1.4 cm) long.
  • Pollen cones reddish brown or yellowish brown in color, measuring 0.4 to 0.8 inch (1 - 2 cm) long by 0.12 to 0.16 inch (3 - 4 mm) wide.
  • Seed cones are lustrous light brown to chocolate brown in color, and narrowly ovoid or ovoid-conical shaped before opening. They measure 1.2 to 2.4 inches (3 - 6 cm) long, by 1.2 to 2 inches (3 - 5 cm) wide and are persistent for some time on the tree.
  • Seed scales measure circa 0.72 inch (1.8 cm) by 0.32 to 0.4 inch (0.8 - 1 cm). Apophyses appear at the middle of closed cones, and are shield-, lozenge-shaped or pentagonal, with 2 or 3 distinct, more-or-less straight or concave proximal edges and a distal end with either 2 distinct, straight or curved edges, or a single, rounded margin. Umbos are depressed or flat, with a minute, but distinct and persistent, mucronate prickle, or with a tiny, deciduous prickle, or unarmed.
  • Seeds are ellipsoid or ovoid shaped and compressed, measuring 0.2 to 0.24 inch (5 - 6 mm) long by 0.1 to 0.14 inch (2.5 - 3.4 mm) long, excluding seed wings, which measure 0.4 to 0.56 inch (1 - 1.4 cm) long by 0.2 to 0.24 inch (5 - 6 mm) wide.
  • Pollination takes place in April and May; seed maturity is October of the second year.
natural range of <em>Pinus taiwanensis </em>
natural range of Pinus taiwanensis

Distribution. This species is native to Taiwan — Chiayi, Xinchu, Ilan, Nantou, and Taichung Xians; found growing at elevations of 2,400 to 11,500 feet (750 - 3,500 m) above sea level in central ranges of Taiwan; in habitats ranging from large pure stands to broadleaf/conifers forests to subalpine meadows.

Hardy to USDA Zone 8 — cold hardiness limit between 10° and 20°F (-12.1° and -6.7°C).

Attribution from: Hui-Lin Li; Flora of Taiwan, V.1, parts 1-8; ©1975, Epoch Publishing, Taipei.

Pinus taiwanensis at the Asian Collection of The U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, DC, May 2006.
Photo by Dax Herbst
Pinus taiwanensis at the Asian Collection of The U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, DC, May 2006.
Photo by Dax Herbst
Pinus taiwanensis a stand growing in habitat.
Photo by Chris Hoare, CC BY 2.0, Wikipedia Commons
Pinus taiwanensis — foliage and branch detail.
Photo by avocat, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)
Pinus taiwanensis — immature seed cone detail.
Photo by Chien-Ti Chao
Pinus taiwanensis — pollen cone detail.
Photo by Coll. Sci. Imp. Univ. Tokyo


Michael Reed

Hello. Does anyone knows how many pine species has been recorded in Japan and Taiwan?

David Olszyk

Hello Michael, I quickly scanned through the list of Pinus species and quickly counted six native species to Japan and three for Taiwan. Feel free to scan the list yourself to verify.