The Himalayan Pine is native to the Himalayas, Karakoram, and Kindu Kush mountain ranges. It can be found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and China. It prefers to grow in mountain screes, but can also be found in forests as a primary species. The pine can be grown in moist, well-drained environments and prefers to grow in clay or loam. It cannot grow in the shade.
Origin, history, and uses:
The Himalayan Pine was initially known as Pinus griffithii or Pinus excelsa. Its scientific name was eventually changed to Pinus wallichiana in honor of Nathaniel Wallich. Wallich was a Danish botanist and surgeon who practiced in Bhutan. He introduced to seeds of the Himalayan Pine to England in 1827, and the tree was officially made available in the European Nursery trade in 1836.
The Himalayan Pine is used to produce turpentine, which is a common solvent used for organic synthesis. Turpentine is obtained by distilling the tree’s resin. Pines in warmer regions give a higher yield of resin. Historically, turpentine was also used for medicinal purposes. It was used to cure respiratory problems, colds, and a variety of skin conditions. Additionally, it was thought to act as an anti-parasitic drug and has antiseptic properties. Turpentine is still found in chest rubs such as Vicks and is put in some cleaning products.
After turpentine is distilled away, the remaining material is rosin. This is used to make varnish and wax, and is used by violinist’s on their bows. The leaves of the Himalayan Pine are used to produce a green dye, and the wood is durable enough to be used in carpentry and construction.
The Himalayan Pine is an evergreen, so it has leaves year round. Pollination occurs any time between April and June and the seeds mature from September to October; however, maturation can take an entire year, and the seeds may not develop until the next season.