Austrian Pine

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
The majestic Austrian pine stands tall in a small courtyard near Luce Hall on Hillhouse Avenue. Horticulturalist Dr. Carl Whitcomb noted that the Austrian pine "rivals all pines in durability under adverse conditions," making it one of the toughest of all European pines. Austrian pines are medium to fast-growing, generally reaching between 40 and 60 feet and spreading 25 to 35 feet. Mature trees can grow to be over 500 years old. The Austrian pine is native to Austria, northern Italy, and the former Yugoslavia, but has been widely planted in eastern and midwestern North America because of its bold texture, fullness of foliage, dark-green needles, and adaptability to urban conditions.
Christine Wu, Lisa Zhang, Maddy Zimmerman
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Date of tree entry: 
11.53 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.48 m

The Austrian pine bark is furrowed, platelike, rough and dark brown/grey in color. The bark has flaking fissues that are split into scaly plates and also can be increasingly fissured as the tree matures.
Twigs & branches
Branches of the Austrian pine are cylindrical with a wrinkly gray-brown appearance. The Austrian pine has an opposite branching pattern, meaning that the branches grow on the opposite sides of the tree and across from each other.
The Austrian pine has dark green, fragrant, stiff needle-like leaves that occur two per fascicle. They are around 3-6 inches in length. Needles persist between four and eight years on the stout twigs and branchelets. Austrian pine are affected by Diplodia tip blight, which initially infects the stems and needles at branch tips. This disease can slowly kill the tree over several years, and can wreak havoc if it spreads to surrounding trees. Affected branch tips die every year and the disease progresses to other areas. This results in dead sectors with brown needles on diseased trees.
Reproductive Structures
The Austrian pine is a monoecious species with separate male and female cones. In spring, the pollen-bearing yellow male cones of the Austrian pine emerge. Once the pollen grains have matured, they fertilize the reddish female cones via wind. Female cones are reddish throughout the first year of development and appear in singles, or sets of two or three. After two years of development, the mature cones are brown and about three inches in length. There are small spikes on the backsides of scales. The mature cones spread their scales and release their fertilized seeds. They remain on the tree for up to several years.
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall
  • Winter
Natural range of distribution: 
In its native European habitat, Austrian pine grows in a cool to cold termperate climate. It can withstand temperatures of -22 degrees F. Annual preceiptation varies from 24-40 inches. Austrian Pine has been shown to conduct photosynthesis as low as 23 degrees F. The species withstands the weight of ice well and is considered hardy. In general, the Austrian Pine is one of the most adaptable pines to a wide variety of environmental conditions. It prefers moist and well-drained soils, but can also adapt to moist, heavy clay soils or salty, moist sandy soils. It can tolerate winter salt spray to its foliage, salt deposition around its root zone, and alkaline soils.
Origin, history, and uses: 

The Austrian pine is native to Austria, northern Italy, and former Yugoslavia. It is thought that Romans worshipped this tree over 2000 years ago. In 1759, it was introduced to the United States. During the Dust Bowl, over 217 million Austrian Pines were planted as a way to combat high winds and moisture evaporating from the soil and prevent dust storms. This was known as the Great Plains Shelterbelt. 

The Austrian pine can withstand soil and air pollution and is good for windbreaks. This makes the tree ideal for restoring strip mines and scarred land, while reducing the wind and stabilizing the soil. This makes it a good tree for urban environments, like Yale. It also provides a place of shelter for wildlife, especially owls. 

The Austrian pine is an evergreen tree, so it keeps its needles year round. In May and June, male cones usually emerge to fertilize the female cones on the tree. The seeds tend to disperse between October and November.
Other information of interest: 

You can follow the tree on Instagram!

Media and Arts

Visit to see our tree’s personal page!

Lisa Zhang Austrian Pine Watercolor

Lisa Zhang Pine Cone and Needles Watercolor