pick-a-plant > Week 7 > Pinus canariensis

Family: Pinaceae
Common Name: Canary Island pine

As the common name would suggest, these pines come from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, so they are adapted to a dry Mediterranean climate. Each tree has a single tall, straight trunk ringed with regular whorls of short branches. The bright green needles are long and thin and they hang off the tree like slightly undercooked spaghetti. The needles persist on the tree for two years and then fall off, so the inner branches are bare and marked with scars.

The seedlings of these trees have stiff, blue-green needles that are only about half as long as the adult needles, so they don't look like they come from the same species. If you hunt around, you can usually find patches of that juvenile foliage growing around the base of the large, mature trees.

Look for:
- a large, erect tree (20-30m high) with a single vertical trunk,
- pendulous, bright green needles (3 per fascicle, 20-30cm x 1mm),
- occasional patches of blue-green juvenile foliage with shorter needles,
- plates of reddish-brown bark, cut by deep vertical grooves that show the layers.

Similar Species: Torrey pine has stiffer, gray-green needles that are twice as thick and held in fascicles of 5. The branches are more upswept and the bark is light gray. Italian stone pine has much shorter needles that are slightly twisted and held in fascicles of 2.