Pinus balfouriana

Foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana )

The Foxtail Pine ( Pinus balfouriana ) is a species of the genus pine (Pinus ) within the family (Pinaceae ). It is native to California. Copies may be up to 2110 years old.



The Foxtail pine grows as evergreen tree reaching heights of growth of up to 21.3 meters and a diameter at breast height of up to 2.6 meters. Average plant height it reaches 6-15 meters and a diameter at breast height between 30 and 60 centimeters. Since the nature hardly grows in dense stands it usually has a highly irregular stem and crown molding. The stem base of mostly very collection Zigen tribe is very strong. The trunk usually ends in a dry top. Also at the tree line Foxtail pine does not grow Shrubby but always forms an upright, but sometimes also inclined, stem from. The branches of the upper crown are relatively long.


The smooth bark of young branches and trunks is colored light gray. It turns later, cinnamon and irregularly fissured. Old trees usually have a trunk in which only a narrow strip of bark has been preserved which extends to the crown. Young branches have a dark brown bark and are initially hairy irregular.


The soft wood is yellow-brown color and medium weight. The parenchyma is relatively thick-walled and has numerous simple pits.


The relatively stiff needles are 2 to 4 inches long. They are pointed and sharp margin entire. The needle top is deep green while the needle base is colored gray-green and have white Stomatastreifen. They are relatively close, especially in the peak areas of the shoots are curved and somewhat towards the branch. The needles are always five on short shoots and form a rosette around the base bundle. They are names factor for this kind if you grind as the needles they give off a pleasant aromatic scent. The needles remain 10 to 20 years at the tree.

Flowers, cones and seeds

The Foxtail pine is reached puberty at around 20 years. The flowering period extends from July to August. The position and structure of the cones is no different from other pine species. The male cones are yellow colored. The very short -stalked cones taper towards the tip and are 7-13 inches long and up to 5 inches wide. Immature cones are dull black in color blue. They ripen in September-October of the second year and then dark red-brown. The narrow cone scales are square and have a very small and slightly curved spine.

The winged seeds is matte purple colored and slightly mottled. The length of wing is about 25 millimeters, without wings 6-8 mm. The wing is firmly fused with the seed corn. The thousand grain weight is around 27 grams. The Foxtail pine sprouts above ground ( epigeal ).

Similar Species

The Foxtail pine resembles two closely related species of pine. From the bristlecone pine ( Pinus aristata ), it differs in the absence of resin flakes on the needles, through the elongated and often slightly curved red-brown cones with conical tapered base and the very short and thin spinous process of the cone scales. In addition, the young shoots of the Bristlecone pine tree are covered with fine hair bald and not, as in the foxtail pine. From the long-lived pine ( Pinus longaeva ), it differs in the yellow male cones and the short and thin spinous process of the cone scales.

Distribution and location

The Foxtail pine is native to California in two sub- areas. One is located in northwestern California, and stretches from the Siskiyou Mountains and the Yolla Bolly Mountains in the south to the Klamath Mountains, the Scott Mountains and the Marble Mountains in the north. The second part area is located on the eastern slopes of the southern Sierra Nevada, where it mainly includes the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. A single occurrence is located on the northern slopes of the Siretta peaks. Reports are available on the occurrence in the Onion Valley above Independence and on the east side of Mount Whitney. In Europe, the foxtail pine has been planted very rare. Two older copies are in the Botanical Garden of Edinburgh.

The Foxtail Pine is a light and tree species colonized alpine extreme locations. The growing season is usually no longer than two months and includes a summer dry period. They can withstand extreme cold, high snow cover, high heat and constant wind. The natural area is usually very rugged and water is supplied largely by melt water. There are especially exposed and dry rocky slopes, ridges and hilltops, mostly without soil cover, populated. It occurs at altitudes of 1,500 to 3,000 meters before. It makes hardly closed forests and grows mostly single. At low altitudes it forms mixed stands with the White -Russians Pine ( Pinus albicaulis ) of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta ), the West American juniper (Juniperus occidentalis), the Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma ), the splendor of fir (Abies magnifica) and of mountain hemlock ( Tsuga mertensiana ).


The Foxtail pine is hardly used due to its hard -to-reach resources.

Diseases and Pests

In the natural habitat the foxtail pine is free of disease. Laboratory experiments have shown that the type of Cronartium ribicola, the causative agent of Strobenrostes, is attacked, so there is no resistance. Since the Strobenrost attacks the jaw, the causative agent is not represented in the natural range or the kind not harm there. The two dwarf mistletoe Arceuthobium species cyanocarpum and Arceuthobium campylopodium occasionally infest the foxtail pine.

The dry and resinous wood of old trees is easy to ignite. It often comes to lightning strikes but hardly wildfires lead to because the trees of this species usually widely spaced and hardly a ground flora is present.


The Foxtail pine is allocated within the genus of pine (Pinus ) in the subgenus strobus, the section and subsection Parrya Balfourianae. The specific epithet honors the British physician and botanist John Hutton Balfour.


  • Bulk, Weisgerber, Schuck, Long, vocal, Roloff: Encyclopedia of conifers. Nikol, Hamburg 2008, ISBN 3-933203-80-5, pp. 329-333.
  • Description and taxonomy of the species at The Gymnosperm Database. (English )