THE NATIVE RANGE OF MONTEREY PINE is limited to small bits of coastal central California and two islands off Baja California, Cedros and Guadalupe. Though rare in its native habitat, Monterey pine is planted worldwide, valued for its great genetic variability, rapid growth, and excellent pulping and lumber qualities, and is the only pine in the southern hemisphere where no pines are native.
Monterey pine is so common in the hills
throughout the San Francisco Bay Area that I was surprised to learn it is not "native." It is widely planted as a landscape tree and along coastal highways and naturalizes abundantly.
Monterey pine is one of the California closed-cone pine group. Cones, old and new, open and closed, remain on the tree. This adaptation to fire, only opening with fire or extreme heat, is called serotiny. Monterey pine exhibits a lot of variability in this regard, sometimes opening on hot days. Conical seed cones are large, to six inches.
Needles occur in fascicles of three, are bright green, slender and around six inches long.