December 30, 2013

Dunes in Bloom: Monterey Pine

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This month, the Native Garden is celebrating a bloom you might not normally notice. Our young Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) is only 3 years old and is nearly 4 feet tall. Monterey Pines on the central coast are home to many different species including the Monarch butterfly.

The Monterey Pine’s leaves are evergreen needles; 4 to 6 inches long and grouped in bundles of 3. They’re slender and shiny green. The bark is thick and grey or dark reddish brown color. It grows pine-cones which are usually 3-5 inches longphoto 1. Its sapwood color is a pale yellow. The Monterey Pine is native to a small coastal area of central California; in San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo counties. It is one of the most planted trees in the world. Its scientific name refers to the strong markings on the cone scales, and the common name to the peninsula on which it grows extensively. The habitat of the Monterey Pine is usually cool and moist.

The pine-cones that grow on it mature in autumn of the second season. Most remain closed until the first warm days of late winter or early spring; it all depends on the weather and humidity. The cones remain attached on the tree for many years. Several species of birds and small mammals depend on the seeds of this tree.

The wood of the Monterey Pine could be used as lumber and other wood products. The pine is also planted to help establish vegetative control of eroding and blowing soils. It has also been asexually propagated for Christmas trees.

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