Scots Pine 

Family: Pinaceae (Pine family).

Scots Pine is the only native British Pine.

This tree may be one of the most common trees in the Taiga or Northern Hemisphere Forest since it ranges, at all altitudes, all the way to East Siberia and goes down south as far as the Balkans and the Black Sea. Scots Pine is a pioneer species and has the ability to regenerate and thrive in poor soils. Planted specimens can be found throughout Britain, but the last small remnants (about 1% old growth) of the once great Caledonian Pine Forest are found in Scotland. There has been a growing trend in Scottish Forestry to allow Scots pine regeneration and also to plant it in conjunction with deciduous native species such as Birch. Natural stands of Scots pine can also be found in the heath lands of Southern England.


The young trees have a more narrow conical outline. As the trees grow, they loose their lower branches and the crowns becomes flatter with wide spreading branches. Against the horizon the crowns can look like small dark green clouds floating around the tops of the tree. Height up to 120 ft or 36m. Maximum girth in a mature tree can be up to just over 8 ft or 2.5m

The upper bark is a warm orange-red colour and the lower bark is usually deeply fissured in older trees. The blue-green needles are usually twisted. They grow in pairs and are 5-8 cm long.

The small pointed hanging cones are greyish-brown with woody scales and produce winged seeds when the scales are opened. You can see cones in various stages on the branches. The ones nearest the tip are the most recently fertilised flowers, then there is a pair of two year old cones maturing further down and a bit further along again you find the lowest cones, which are three years old. These last cones are ripe and will probably have opened scales. The life-span of Scots Pines is about 250-300 years, although older specimens have been found, including a 520 year old tree.


Propagation is usually by seed. Collect cones in winter or early spring. Let the cones dry. Extract the seeds and put in a cold store. It will remain viable for several years.

Growth: 40 ft in 20 years

Can be very susceptible to dry rot fungus.


The timber of Scots pine is also known as "red deal". Although it is a soft wood, it is strong and easy to work. These qualities have made it a popular choice for a great variety of uses. When untreated it is not naturally durable wood, but it takes preservatives very well. In the past it was used for building purposes, ships masts and as a major source for turpentine, resin, and tar. It was also used for making charcoal and flaming torches. Nowadays its main uses are for building wood, pit-props, telegraph poles, fencing, furniture, boxes, chipboard and paper pulp.

May       2nd year
3 years after fertilization