Scots Pine

Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
This Scots Pine is located in the Marsh Botanical Gardens. In late winter, it has sparse leaves, many pine cones, and laterally extending branches. In spring, it has more cones, sap, and its needles look slightly more green. It is near the street side of the gardens, and has some broken branches. Its bark is red/brown, and this tree grows best in slightly acidic pHs, close to neutral pH.
Joey Tan, Anika Mohapatra, Camille Lawson
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Irregular Pyramidal
Date of tree entry: 
9.53 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.42 m

The bark of the tree is a flaky or scaly red/orange and brown bark. Upper bark on the tree is more scaly, and lower bark is a darker red-brown color.
Twigs & branches
Scots Pine trees grow one whorl of branches every year, so faster-growing trees have more sparsely distributed branches. The age of the tree can be determined by counting the number of rings of branches. A popular choice for Christmas trees, Scots Pine trees also have stiff branches which can hold up ornaments well. The branch bark is reddish-brown/gray and somewhat scaly like the central tree bark. Scots Pine loses its lower branches as it matures.
Scots Pine has foliage consisting of blue-green pine needles that are up to 3 inches long, and are found in intertwined fascicles of 2. The shape of Scots Pine needles help to retain water, and have better wind resistance, reducing the likelihood of the tree falling. Also known as a type of evergreen, Scots Pines retain their pine needles through the winter. The Scots Pine also has pine cones of grey-to-brown coloring.
Reproductive Structures
Scots pines are monoecious, and have separate male and female reproductive structures on the tree. There are male pollen cones, which grow at the base of buds, and female seed cones, which grow at the tips of buds.
As a gymnosperm, the Scots Pine has no fruit.
  • Late Winter
  • Late Winter (February)
  • Late Winter (February)
  • Spring (March)
  • Spring (March)
Natural range of distribution: 
The Scots pine is native to northern Europe and Asia, and has been naturalized to the United States and Southern Canada, specifically localized in North America to New England and the Great Lakes area. It is the most widely dispersed pine, and is found at altitudes ranging from sea level to near 8000 feet in elevation, in continental climates, though it adapts to climates with more extreme conditions, as supported by its global distribution. The Scots Pine prefers full sun, and usually grows between 30 and 60 feet when cultivated but can grow to 100 feet, and live for up to 700 years.
Origin, history, and uses: 

The origin of the Scots Pine is in Europe (and Asia), but it was brought to North America when European colonies were founded here. More specifically, outside of the US, there are Scots Pines in Canada, in Northern Europe, and parts of eastern Asia. Historically, it has been a common tree sold as Christmas trees, and is also often used for timber in Europe. Scots Pine also provides shelter and acts as a habitat for animals and birds including red squirrels, pine martens, crossbills, and Scottish Wildcats. 

In regard to the Scots Pine's phenology, we noticed budding of new cones in late March, and growth of needles around this time and further into spring. In winter, many cones were on the ground, and the tree looked more barren, although still retained its needles.

Cold Stream Farm. (2016, September 13). Needles vs. leaves: A plant evolution.

Brichta, Jakub & Vacek, Stanislav & Vacek, Zdenek & Cukor, Jan & Mikeska, M. & Bílek, Lukáš & Šimůnek, Václav & Gallo, Josef & Brabec, Pavel & Štefančík, Igor. (2023). Importance and potential of Scots pine ( Pinus sylvestris L.) in 21 st century. Central European Forestry Journal. 69. 3-20. 10.2478/forj-2022-0020. 

Jach, M. & Ceulemans, Reinhart. (1999). Effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on phenology, growth and crown structure of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seedlings after two years of exposure in the field. Tree physiology. 19. 289-300. 10.1093/treephys/19.4-5.289. 

Londberg, B., & Cregg, B. (2023, November 16). Real Christmas trees: Which one is right for you?. Michigan State University.….

Pinus sylvestris. Missouri Botanical Garden. (n.d.).…

Skilling, D. D. (n.d.). Scotch Pine. Pinus sylvestris L.…

Scots Pine. Forestry England. (n.d.).…

Woodland Trust. (n.d.). Pine, scots (pinus sylvestris).…

Media and Arts
An Ode to the Scots Pine
There is no pine tree quite like Scot
Who lives close to the science lot.
With lots of broken branches
He weathers rain, cold, and manages
to keep cones and needles all year,
no fear,
except of the deer
which munch on it during the winter.
But live on, dear Scot,
You’ve been through a lot
And I know you’ll survive
And one day, we’ll die, 
but when that day comes, 
you’ll be standing in the sun,
300 years old,
shining like gold,
steady and strong,
all year long.
File untitled_1080p_high_quality.mp417.64 MB