TREES OF THE MONTH JANUARY - TWO MORE PINES
Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine, Skotse den)
Pinus sylvestris is one of four pine species found in De Waal Park. Unlike the other three (P. pinaster, P. radiata and P. pinea) this tree is a most unusual visitor to this part of the world, and there is only one specimen in the Park. At first glance P. sylvestris resembles P. pinaster, but overall it gives a greyer impression. Its distinguishing traits are the long, bare trunk topped by a flat-topped mass of foliage. It can also be identified by its combination of fairly short, blue-green leaves (needles) and scaly, dark gray-brown bark. The small cones become pale brown and then grey-green when they reach maturity after about two years.
This Pinus species is the only pine native to northern Europe, and its natural range is from Scotland, Ireland and Portugal in the west to the far east of Siberia. It occurs as far south as the Caucasus Mountains and to the north in Scandinavia it grows beyond the Arctic Circle. Scots pine is commercially planted for the timber and pulp industry. In North America and New Zealand, where it is also planted commercially, the trees are often prone to disease.
Pinus Sylvestris cone
It is the national tree of Scotland, as its common name, Scots pine, indicates.How the De Waal Park Scots pine arrived here Park is not known, but this impressive, mature specimen is an interesting addition to the pine cultivars. It was identified with the help of Dr Ben du Toit of the Forest and Wood Science Department at the University of Stellenbosch.
Pinus radiata (Monterey pine, Monterey-den)
There are only two specimens of P. radiata in the Park, growing immediately below the dam wall. Both are mature and were probably planted in the late 19th century, together with the Monterey cypresses, as part of the formal tree rows on either side of the road below the dam wall.
P. radiata grows up to 60 m high in cultivation, with upward pointing branches. The leaves (needles) are bright green and occur in clusters of three. The cones are between 7 cm and 17 cm long, have a brown colour and are ovoid (egg-shaped). The bark is fissured and dark grey to brown.
The Radiata pine is native to a small area on the west coast of California and further south on two islands. It has become rare in its original natural habitat and does not resemble the P. radiata that has been introduced across the world and is a major plantation species in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Kenya and South Africa.
P. radiata has adapted to cope with stand-killing fire disturbance, that is to say the cones remain closed until opened by the heat of a forest fire when the abundant seeds are then discharged to regenerate on the burned forest floor. In the Western Cape P. radiata has spread into mountain and fynbos areas where it has become invasive.