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Botanical Name: Pinus nigra
Common Name: Austrian Black Pine
Origin: Southern Europe
Notable Feature: Both its dark green needles and its dense habit make for an outstanding specimen tree. From an ornamental standpoint, older trees can be quite architectural with their short trunk, their low, stout, and spreading branches, and their wind-swept, flat-topped crown.
Habit: A large, coniferous, evergreen tree growing 40 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 50 feet wide. Trees exhibit a dense, pyramidal habit in youth and with age form a spreading, flat-topped dome.
Flowers: Species is monoecious (male and female flowers occur separately on the same tree). Male flowers are cylindrical, yellow, and borne in large clusters along twigs; female flowers are oval, and yellow to purple in color.
Fruit: Cones are oval, 2 to 3” long, yellow-brown, appearing in solitary or in clusters, and maturing in the fall.
Foliage: Dark green needles are 4 to 6” long, flexible with two thick needles per fascicle (bundle). They can persist for 4 to 8 years on the tree.
Bark: Gray to yellow-brown and is widely split by flaking fissures into scaly plates, becoming increasingly fissured with age.
Interesting Facts: The Austrian pine was planted by homesteaders on the Great Plains in the early 1900s to provide beauty and protection from wind and snow on the treeless plains. Unfortunately, it is now very susceptible to a deadly fungus called the red band needle blight disease; out of control it is rapidly spreading throughout the U.S. All Austrian pines now growing in the U.S. are expected to be killed by this disease.