Knobcone pine is one of the fire-adapted group of California pines referred to as closed-cone pines, in that their cones open to release the seeds, in most cases, only after fire. Knobcone is usually a smallish tree, and often appears scraggly. The foliage is sparse, the needles are four to five inches long, slender, in groups of three. Knobcone pine grows on granite or serpentine, often in conditions where other trees can not compete. The distinguishing feature is that the four to six inch cones remain unopened, in whorls of three to five, on the trunk and major branches.
Knobcone pines are scattered throughout the Coast Ranges from Baja to Oregon, also in the Klamath Ranges, and occasionally on the west slope of the Sierra up to 6000 feet.
I have seen clusters of tightly-closed cones still on trees that have been dead on the ground for years.
This shapely specimen was found growing out of granite between Canyon Creek Lakes in the Klamath Mountains, Trinity National Forest.