Bishop pines, Inverness Ridge, Point Reyes National Seashore


Pinus muricata


Bishop pine in an area of Inverness Ridge that did not burn in 1995 fire, Point Reyes National Seashore. 

Bishop pine is another of the fire-adapted, California closed-cone pines. It always occurs within a few miles of the coast, scattered from Humboldt county to southern California, plus Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands. There's also an an outlier population near San Vicente, Baja California Norte. Bishop pine has been said to hybridize with Monterey pine, which some authorities think unlikely, and there remain differences of opinion as to its relationship to offshore island species. It is highly variable on many counts, and some of the northern and southern populations are unable to breed with each other.​ 

Needles are in bundles of two, and are three to five inches long. Egg-shaped cones can be up to four inches long, with prickles. They cluster around the stems, but in my observation, they usually don't make as distinct a cluster as those on knobcone pine. Cones weather from reddish brown to gray, and usually remain tightly closed. Bark is furrowed and dark gray with fissures which may have orangish color.

In the early 2000s, I went to Point Reyes to see how the bishop pines rebounded from the 1995 Mount Vision fire. This photo from Limantour Road shows an abundance of trees about six feet tall, and you can see the ocean beyond. In 2017, at the same spot on Limantour Road, the trees were 15 or more feet tall and totally cut off the view of the ocean.

SFGate update from 2005 here

NPS Information about the fire here

New growth bishop pines in front of snags burned in 1995 Mount Vision fire, Point Reyes National Seashore

Snags of burned bishop pines with vigorous new growth below. Photo taken about 2005.