The Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii ) is a small tree and is crooked in its stance. It has loosely spreading branches and blackish-gray bark furrowed in irregular plates. In Japan, this tree is often pruned into beautiful shapes and is a popular bonsai tree. The foliage consists of sharp-pointed needles which are packaged in clusters of two. Male and female cones appear on the same tree: male cones are yellowish and form at the base of new growth and female cones are purple-red. The tree is a native of northeast China, Japan and Korea. Salt tolerance makes it an excellent tree for the shore and for stabilizing sand dunes. Closely related to the Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra – needles also in pairs). In winter P. thunbergii has white, hairy leaf buds. The species name honors Pehr Thunberg (1743 – 1835), a Swedish botanist and student of Linnaeus who traveled in Japan and included the species in the first botanical flora of Japan that he wrote, incorrectly referring to it as Scots pine.
Common name: Japanese Black Pine; Pinus Thurnbergiana
Scientific Name (family and order): Pinus thunbergii ‘Parlatore’ (Pinaceae, Pinales)
Species Origin: N.E China, Japan, Korea.
New Jersey Status: USDA Introduced
Habit: A small to medium leaning tree: 20 – 90’ tall with multiple leaning or curving trunks. Broadly conical.
Habitat: Zones 6 -8. Grows near coast-line.
Trunk/Stem: Bark gray, cracking into irregular plates. Branches stout and twisted
Leaves: Evergreen, needlelike in clusters of two. Needle-like and rigid, 4” long in pairs sharp-pointed densely-set, pointing forward on mottled yellow-brown shoots.
Flowers: Monoecious. Males yellowish; females purple-red in separate cluster on young shoots
Fruits and seeds: Egg-shaped cone, 2 ¾ “ long purple or green ripening to gray brown. Cone scales have very small to absent prickles.