Pine Pine, Domestic Pine - Pinus pinea

Pinus pinea

Evergreen conifer, fairly fast growing, the pinus pinea is native to the countries bordering the Mediterranean; it has an erect stem, with reddish bark, which breaks into quite large gray-brown plaques. The ramifications start only in the summit area of ​​the stem, giving rise to a wide rounded crown, which over time takes on a characteristic umbrella shape; the leaves are needle-like, joined two by two, 10-15 cm long, of greyish green color. The male inflorescences are small, yellowish in color; the female inflorescences consist of large green pine cones, which become woody when ripe, freeing the seeds; these are oily seeds, with woody shell, called pine nuts: the domestic pine it is the only conifer from which significant quantities of pine nuts are obtained. On the Italian coasts many domestic pines are seen, since they have been used in many areas to consolidate the coasts.

Domestic pine

The domestic pine (or umbrella pine or pine nut pine) is a very common conifer throughout the Mediterranean basin. In Italy in particular it is very common in Liguria, Tuscany, Sicily and Sardinia. It is rather widespread but also in other regions (for example in Lazio and in particular in Rome) because it has been widely used for street trees, gardens and parks for ornamental purposes.
Its air includes all the coastal areas of the Mediterranean. It is thought to have originated in Turkey or northern Africa and it was the Romans who introduced it to our peninsula. It is often associated with oaks, Aleppo pine, maritime pine, and together they often constitute thick pine forests close to the coasts.
It usually prefers dry soils, but it also adapts to deeper, richer and fresher soils, unless they are calcareous. It also lives very well simply on the sand and in fact throughout Europe are known populations perfectly adapted to the presence of dunes, in a semi-desert environment.

Family and gender
Pinaceae, gen. Pinus, sp. pinea
Type of plant Tree, conifer with a persistent leaf, h up to 25 m, diameter up to 10 m.
Exposure Full sun
Rustic Medium rustic (withstands short frosts down to -10 ° C)
Ground Well drained, rich or poor, but possibly dry. Not calcareous soils
fertilization Stallatic in the fall
leaves Gray-green, glaucous needles when young
cones Brown, shiny, heavy, oval-shaped
flowering End of spring, the yellow male, the green female, on the same plant

The leaves are medium gray, needle-like and sprouting from the branch in groups of two. They can measure from 10 to 20 cm in length, and in rare cases even exceed 30.The young specimens (normally 5 to 10 years old) carry very different leaves: they are single and at most 4 cm long, of a beautiful glaucous green.Adult needles begin to appear concurrently with others between the fourth and fifth years of life. Around the tenth the entire leaf apparatus will be composed only of adult-shaped needles.The leaves with a youthful appearance return to be produced if the tree proves to be strongly debilitated (for example after a fire) or on very old specimens.Bark pinus pinea

The bark is brown-red. There are deep diamond-shaped cracks and consequently it is divided into large scales.

Pinus pinea flowers and fruits

It is a monoecious species with male and female flowers carried on the same plant.
The males are yellow, the females are green. They are found on separate bunches on young branches in early summer. In the autumn of the same year (or at the latest of the following one) cones are born.
The fruits are cones (commonly called "pinecones") of almost round shape, very heavy, shiny and brown. They measure from 8 to 15 cm in length and need three years to reach full maturity. The seeds are large, up to 2 cm long, light brown. They are covered by a black-reddish shell with a rudimentary 4 to 8 millimeter long wing, but it is lost very easily. In this regard it must be said that in any case it would have no functional utility when the seeds are mostly carried by animals, in particular birds or small rodents.
The pine nuts are edible and are widely used by the confectionery industry or for the preparation of sauces (such as the famous Ligurian pesto).


domestic pines are very resistant to drought; generally they are satisfied with the rains, even if it is good to abundantly water the young specimens at the time of implantation.


they need very well drained, sandy and even rocky soils; in some countries they are called pines of the rocks. They generally show that they can adapt even in extreme conditions, but they do not like moist soils and stagnant water in general.


usually occurs by seed, in spring; the young seedlings have a very delicate root system, it is good to grow them in pots for some years before planting them. It is quite difficult to obtain seedlings from seed, given the fragility of the young specimens, which are easily attacked by pests or diseases; It is difficult to propagate by cuttings, which is carried out in spring or late summer, but only on young plants of a maximum of 10 years to have a fair chance of success.

Pests and diseases

Sometimes it can be hit by a processionary or by the aphid of the cedar.
It is generally a fairly resistant conifer.
However, a moth may be attacked by Evetria bouliana which lays its eggs inside the germ. When these hatch they cause the deformation of the twigs.
Another danger is represented by the pyralis, Diorychtria sylvestrella, whose larvae penetrate through the resiniferous channels, obstructing them.
Another harmful moth is the processionary (which, if touched, is also irritating to humans and pets). It damages the plant causing extensive defoliation. It must be fought with special products in the shortest possible time.
The domestic pine can also be affected by cryptogams, in particular some may cause rameal cancers which, in the long run, can also lead to the death of the specimen.
The rust, on the other hand, strongly damages the needles and subsequently causes the bowing of the branches.

Cultivation pinus pinea

We always try to buy plants obtained from seed and make sure that the central taproot has not been broken during repotting operations (and we also try not to break it). Its integrity is in fact of paramount importance to guarantee stability to the tree over time.
One of the major problems affecting this conifer is in fact related to the shape of its foliage. Over time it becomes very compact and is likely to offer strong wind resistance. Consequently, (as happens for example with a certain frequency in Rome) if the specimen is not well anchored to the ground through the long central root there is the concrete risk that the entire specimen will be eradicated; this can cause serious harm to people and nearby buildings.


The domestic pine should be planted preferably in autumn, although it is possible to carry out the operation until March-April. However, periods in which the soil is frozen or extremely humid must be avoided.
It is necessary to dig a very deep hole so that the whole root system can be easily inserted. It is always a good idea to proceed at least three weeks in advance: this will give the terrain the possibility to revitalize itself.
At the plant we will create a thick draining layer on the bottom; given that this conifer grows better on rather dry soils, it will be good to mix a good quantity of coarse sand with the filling material in order to guarantee the best drainage of the water. It may also be a good idea to add some very mature flour manure to ensure that, at least for the first time, nourishment is guaranteed.
Especially if we live in the northern regions it is advisable, at the end of the operation, to cover the collar with insulating material such as straw, hay, leaves or, even better, pine bark. This will prevent the cold from damaging the delicate root system during the first winter.

Pine pine rusticity

Is maritime pine rustic?
It is quite resistant to cold. We can say that it is suitable for almost all Italian regions, particularly in the Center-South, with the exclusion of the Apennine areas above 800 meters. The minimum temperature that it can withstand is -12 ° C, although it should not be maintained for long (clearly the young and recently positioned ones are more sensitive).
It is also necessary to point out that it is rather sensitive to brackish air and therefore it is not advisable to place it in the front line on the sea. Instead, it thrives very well on the hills near the coasts.

Pinus pinea pruning

The growth of the domestic pine is very slow in the first period, only to become very fast.
After the first five years it naturally begins to take on the typical umbrella shape and, normally, no training is necessary. It is a natural process: it is a heliophilous plant and therefore tends to lose the lower branches as they are shaded by the upper ones.
Instead, it is important to monitor specimens often and carefully to intervene if there are sick, dry or poorly formed branches. It is preferable to intervene in autumn, before the arrival of frost, or at the end of spring.
However, if you wish, you can intervene in this way:
• Cutting the lower branches and systematically leaving only the two highest ones
• Some branches are eliminated in order to open the umbrella a little. In this way too much resistance to the wind will not be opposed and it will be able to penetrate even more the light.
• It is always good to eliminate the little vigorous branches, those that grow inward or that intersect with the others.
Once our intervention is over, it is extremely important to cover the cuts with the appropriate mastic. This prevents the penetration of cryptogams, guaranteeing excellent healing.

Pine pine, Domestic pine - Pinus pinea: Uses and curiosity

As we have said from the pine cones we obtain the pine nuts, very used in confectionery and in some typical dishes (in particular Ligurian). Currently the largest world producer is Spain.
The resin seems to be very aromatic and able to fight diseases of the respiratory system. It was melted on the flame so that the scent permeated the sick room.
For the holidays
The pine cones were used for making garlands. Furthermore, the small specimens were decorated like Christmas trees.
The wood that is obtained finds few uses, in fact it is very resinous and in combustion leaves many residues. It is also little used in carpentry as it has a rather coarse texture and more often than not it is not very durable.
Furthermore, the large knots make the wood less resistant from a mechanical point of view.
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