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Scots pine / fir... Pinus sylvestris ... Péine albanach


 
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James Kilkelly
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Joined: 30 May 2006
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Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 8:07 pm    Post subject: Scots pine / fir... Pinus sylvestris ... Péine albanach Reply with quote

Scots pine / fir... Pinus sylvestris ... Péine albanach

This article concerns one of our native trees which died out in this country hundreds of years ago, only to be re-introduced as a parkland tree after the 1800's. Brought back in part from the wood lands of Scotland, was Pinus sylvestris, also known Scotch fir / Scots pine, or as Gaeilge Péine albanach.
These re-plantings have thankfully once again seeded themselves into wild parts of Ireland, where they can be expected to live 200 years or more, if left to their own devices.


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Pinus
Subgenus: Pinus
Species: P. sylvestris

Quick change artist.
Growing at fast rate, Scots pine morphs in shape from an almost shrub-like conical tree when young, to later becoming a flat-topped, broad spreading tree with cracked dark brown bark. Under ideal growing conditions, you can expect the young conifer to put on up to 1 metre of new growth a year, eventually reaching over 30mtrs (90ft) tall by 10mtrs wide at maturity.

Many of the finest examples of Scots Pines in Ireland are to be seen from the Vee Road between Lismore and Clogheen in Co. Tipperary. These trees are believed to have been planted by people working for the Lismore Estate.
Click for map if you wish to visit and view.

Food for the finches.

The evergreen leaves of Scots pine are flexible 2mm wide needles, approximately 6cm long and coloured bluish green. Male (yellow) and female (red) flowers which grow separately on the same tree, open in late May, are pollinated by wind and once fertilized, the female flowers bend downwards to form a cone. These 5cm long woody cones take up until March or June of the following year to become ripe for shedding their winged seeds. The seeds within the cones make up part of our native finches diet. I believe Scots pine to be our best conifer for wildlife, as in addition to food for the finches, owls will often use it for nesting, and insects use its mature bark for shelter. Upwards of 50 species of insect are known to be associated with the tree, including beetles, spiders, woodlice, butterflies and their offspring, the caterpillars that can be found munching on the pine needles when they are in season.

No seedlings allowed.
The Scots pine needles are not as generous, however, to the poor plants, which may try to grow beneath its large frame. The leaves produce and drop secretions of a substance called terpene, which inhibits the germination of any opportunistic seeds with the audacity to attempt growing at its base. One of my old college lecturers used to jokingly remark that this phenomenon was proof indeed that Scotsmen were mean and tight-fisted, jokingly, of course. As well as producing terpene, Scots pine also produces a resin, which can be distilled to give us a source of turpentine for painters and a source of rosin for the bows of violinists.



Grow your own Scots pine.
Growing your own Scots pine tree is quite easy provided you follow a few simple pointers.
The tree prefers an acid soil (see it growing within the bog in the picture above), it will tolerate chalk or limestone for a while, but eventually the tree will weaken. Producing shallow roots, Scots pine is quite prone to wind throw when young, therefore I advise planting it away from buildings and staking it strongly.
Other than that our native pine is tolerant of light shade, wind and seaside exposure, so it is ideal as part of a shelterbelt.

Growing information at a glance.
Evergreen
Quick-growing
Expected height: 15m / Expected spread: 12m over 50 years
Grow in full sun or very light shade
Tolerant of most soils but prefers acid.
Flowers yellow and red in late May, followed by pine cones.
Main pests are Aphids, Pine shoot moths and Sawflies
Main diseases are Pine needle cast.

Research more in your own time......
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Also try here...... Best Tree Identification Books


Chart shows approximate distribution of the native tree within Ireland, each dot is a 10km square in which the species grows.

Back to native Irish trees.

Scots pine Images courtesy
Paul Wray
Petr Kapitola, State Phytosanitary Administration, Czechia
Gil Wojciech, Polish Forest Research Institute, Poland
Zelimir Borzan
www.forestryimages.org

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Last edited by James Kilkelly on Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sive
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was delighted to find all this information as I love Scots pines and would love to plant one/some. We are on a very windy site here in Wexford, and on a fairly neutral soil. Would I be foolish to plant a Scots Pine in these conditions? Am I right in thinking a young specimen looks like any other conifer? At what age does it start to show signs of its long-term silhouette?
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sive wrote:
We are on a very windy site here in Wexford, and on a fairly neutral soil. Would I be foolish to plant a Scots Pine in these conditions?

No not at all, go for it.
Best to plant into acid soil though..... Tips for making soil acid or making soil more acid.

Sive wrote:
Am I right in thinking a young specimen looks like any other conifer? At what age does it start to show signs of its long-term silhouette?


I think the Male (yellow) and female (red) flowers or candles make it stand out a bit though.
Have a look.....


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crosseyedsheep
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scots pine is also an important source of food for red squirrels, recent research seems to suggest that reds don't feed much on acorns whereas the greys love them.
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Sive
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The young Scots Pines are rather attractive, I had no idea what they looked like at that age.So yes, I will definitely plant some, and if I live long enough to see them grow into their characteristic shape, that will be a bonus! I may just do some more Ph tests on my soil, as it may be more acidic in places.
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spider
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:09 pm    Post subject: scots pine Reply with quote

i have plenty of acid soil ,so have to plant some scots pine ,
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cooler
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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sive wrote:
At what age does it start to show signs of its long-term silhouette?


I would expect it to take at least 20-25 years to get the shape you are talking about Sive.
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Sive
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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2008 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Cooler, seeing as I am near retirement age, it would be a real act of faith in the future to plant Scots Pine, but then isn't that what gardening is all about ? I love the trees so much that I will definitely plant some for my grandson's generation to revere !!
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