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Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis)

Diputación de Málaga
Árbol Pino carrasco, pino de Alepo. Pinus halepensis

Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis)

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Plant Life > Trees, Bushes and Herbaceous Plants

IDENTIFICATION

It is a tree (up to 20 m high) with a trunk commonly tortuous and the bark and branches of a greyish or whitish colour. The leaves, called needles, sprout in groups of two, they are very fine and elongated and do not usually grow more than 6 to 10 cm long by 1 mm wide. The fruits are known as  cones (4 to 8 cm long) They are joined  to the leaves by quite a thick stem. The pine nuts (the seeds) are small and have a wing helping their dispersion by the wind once the cone ripens and opens. Adult specimens usually keep many dry cones from previous years on the branches.

WHERE DOES IT LIVE?

It is the most zerophilous pine: the one which better bears drought. It can survive with only 250 mm yearly rainfall. It is also the most thermophilic one. It is very sensitive to the cold: a climatic feature limiting its distribution. It can live from sea level to 1,600 meters above the sea level. it prefers calcareous grounds, although it is considered that it is indifferent to the kind of substrate. It is usually found forming not very dense forests, in touch with other pines like the maritime pine, holm oaks and junipers. In its underwood, the scrub usually present is the rosemary, the kermes oak, the phoenician juniper, the gorses and the esparto grass.

HOW DOES IT LIVE?

It is a monoecious species (there are male and female flowers on a single specimen). It flourishes from March to May. The flowers do not have chalice or corolla (a typical character of the gymnosperms). They are nude flowers, grouped in oval structures called nuts or cones. Pollen dispersion is aided by the wind. Pollen seeds have two very small air-filled vesicles, that enable them to float and help their dispersion. The seeds, called pine nuts, are inside the cones and have a tough black cover. It is a biennial species: the complete cone formation (coming from the female cones) ends during autumn of the second year.

WHERE CAN WE SEE IT IN THE MALAGA PROVINCE?

The aleppo pine has historically been a very used species for afforestation in the whole province territory, so that it is very common to find it in whatever the Malaga mountain ranges. It is very abundant in coastal saws (the Mijas mountain range and Sierra Blanca), and in the Ronda mountain range, in Ardales and El Burgo saws, in Alameda and by Fuente de Piedra and the Hoz de Marín. In the Great Path, we can find it in stages 5 to 8, 12, 21 to 23 and 31 to 34.

CURIOUS FACTS

The aleppo pine's wood is not as appreciated as others. Its abundant resin and its small tortuous bearing make it less valuable.  It has been used to create not very large items, packages, chipboards, to get carbon and even to make resin. And its bark for leather tanning. It is an excellent species to restore degraded ecosystems, to slow down erosion and colonize dry and poor soils near the coast, where its great resistance to drought highlights Pinus was the pines Latin name, mainly given to the stone pine and its wood, halepensis alludes to the Sirian Aleppo town, where it is abundant.

SIMILAR SPECIES

It can be confused with other pine species. The Aleppo pine differs because of its very tortuous trunk, that the dry cones stay on the plant once the nuts are dispersed and because it has the finest needles.

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