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Sugar Pine
Sugar Pine cones and needles
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Pinus
Subgenus: Strobus
Species: P. lambertiana
Binomial name
Pinus lambertiana

The Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana; family Pinaceae) is a species of pine that occurs in the mountains of Oregon and California in the western United States, and Baja California in northwestern Mexico; specifically the Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Range, the Coast Ranges, and the Sierra San Pedro Martir.



This tree is the largest species of pine, commonly growing to 40-60 meters (130-200 feet) tall, exceptionally up to 81 m (265 ft) tall, and with a trunk diameter of 1.5-2.5 m (5-8 ft), exceptionally 3.5 m (11 ft).

The Sugar Pine has long straight branches, weighed down at the tips by the cones.

It is a member of the white pine group, Pinus subgenus Strobus, and like all members of that group, the leaves ('needles') are in fascicles (bundles) of five, with a deciduous sheath. They are 6-11 cm (2-4 inch) long. Sugar Pine is notable for having the longest cones of any conifer, mostly 25-50 cm (10-20 in) long, exceptionally up to 66 cm (26 in) long (although the cones of the Coulter pine are more massive). The seeds are 10-12 mm (0.4-0.5 in) long, with a 2-3 cm (0.75-1.2 in) long wing that aids wind dispersal.

Fungus infection

The Sugar Pine has been severely affected by the White Pine Blister Rust (Cronartium ribicola),[1] a fungus that was accidentally introduced from Europe in 1909. A high proportion of the Sugar Pine has been killed by the blister rust, particularly in the northern part of the species' range that has experienced the rust for a longer period of time. The rust has also destroyed much of the Western White Pine and Whitebark Pine throughout their ranges.[1] The U.S. Forest Service has a program (see link below) for developing rust-resistant Sugar Pine and Western White Pine. Seedlings of these trees have been introduced into the wild. The Sugar Pine Foundation in the Lake Tahoe Basin has been successful in finding resistant sugar pine seed trees and has demonstrated that it is important for private citizens to assist the U.S. Forest Service in restoring this species. [2]


Naturalist John Muir considered Sugar Pine to be the "king of the conifers". The name comes from the sweet resin, which Muir found preferable to maple sugar.[3]


Close-up of a Sugar Pine's bark texture in Mount San Antonio

In the Achumawi creation myth, Annikadel, the creator, makes one of the 'First People' by intentionally dropping a Sugar Pine seed in a place suitable for growth. One of the descendants in this ancestry is Sugarpine-Cone man, who has a handsome son named Ahsoballache.

After Ahsoballache marries the daughter of To'kis the Chipmunk-woman, his grandfather insists that the new couple have a child. To this end, the grandfather breaks open a scale from a Sugar Pine cone, and secretly instructs Ahsoballache to immerse the scale's contents in spring water and hide it inside a covered basket. Ahsoballache performs the tasks that night; at the next dawn, he and his wife discover the infant Edechewe near their bed.

References and external links

  1. ^ Moore, Gerry; Kershner, Bruce; Craig Tufts; Daniel Mathews; Gil Nelson; Spellenberg, Richard; Thieret, John W.; Terry Purinton; Block, Andrew (2008). National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Trees of North America. New York: Sterling. p. 79. ISBN 1-4027-3875-7.  


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