ITALIAN STONE PINE, UMBRELLA PINE

Pinus pinea

Pinaceae

Beautiful red-brown bark is fissured into large, colorful plates.

From Google:

Pine nuts prefer the northern hemisphere.

While all pine trees will produce a pine nut, there

are only about 18 species that produce nuts large enough to be of value as human food.

ITALIAN STONE PINE is native to the Mediterranean region, but is planted throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California, and indeed throughout the world, renowned for its beauty, its unique shape, and its seeds famous for making pesto. Stone pines have been cultivated for their edible pine "nuts" since prehistoric times, and have been grown through the Mediterranean region including North African countries, for so long that they have naturalized, and are often considered native well beyond the original range.

Italian stone pine is a large tree, to 80 feet tall, and in maturity spreading greater than its height. Regrettably, I've seen it used in landscaping situations where its huge spread is not accounted for, and it is subsequently chopped in ugly ways. It is not very long lived, to maybe 150 years.

From Gymnosperm Database:

"The first pine used and cultivated by man, its edible seeds have been harvested for perhaps half a million years or more, and the tree planted for them for well over 6,000 years (possibly double this or more); it was introduced from Spain to as far east as Israel and Georgia on the Black Sea coast long before historical records were kept. "[S]eeds of this pine have been used as food by humans since prehistoric times and were widely traded"

Needles are stout, 4 to 8 inches, and occur in bunches of                 two (occasionally three).

                                    Seed cones are globose, around 5                                                      inches, have no prickles, and                                                              take three years to ripen.

While perfect for ample landscape situations, the beautiful spreading shape of this pine, also called umbrella pine, can be awkward in tight, urban situations.

All photos, except as credited to others, are copyright Emerald Canary.