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Resin, black or maritime pine (Pinus pinaster)

Diputación de Málaga

Resin, black or maritime pine (Pinus pinaster)

IDENTIFICATION

It is a strong tree (up to 40m high, normally less than 20m). The trunk develops quite straight, with a thick bark, dark or blackish, rough to the touch and cracked with age. The canopy is pyramid-shaped in young plants, and rounded in adults. Old specimens are bell-shaped. The leaves are sharp-shaped, of an intense green colour, rigid and mucronate (ending in a toughened tip), with a slightly serrated edge and large-sized regarding other species (10 to 25 cm long). The cones are sitting, that means, directly supported by the branch. They have an elongated conic shape (from 8 to 20 cm). The pine nuts (8 to 10 mm) are black on one side and brown on the other, with an articulated wind, larger than the seed.

WHERE DOES IT LIVE?

It preferentially grows on poor, sand and acid soils, avoiding calcareous soils. It can appear in dune coastal systems, where it creates a shared habitat of a special interest. And in mountain ranges near the coast, up to 1500 meters above sea level. It lives about 200 to 300 years and adapts to almost all types of climate, provided they are not too extreme. Excessive frost and absolute drought neither suit it.

HOW DOES IT LIVE?

It is a monoecious species (there are male and female flowers on a single specimen). Flowers appear from March to May. There are female and male cones during this period. The latter is yellow, whereas the female ones are of a reddish or purple colour and slightly bigger than males. Cones are big and elongated and appear at the end of summer. Pine nuts do not ripe nor disperse until spring or summer of the third year after they appeared.  Pine nuts are dispersed by the wind thanks to some long and winged sheets, about 4 times bigger than the pine nuts.

WHERE CAN WE SEE IT IN THE MALAGA PROVINCE?

This species in the province is associated to substrates with acid and ultra-basic soils (peridotites). It is very abundant where it is present. It is very common in Sierra Bermeja, Sierra Palmitera, Sierra Real, Sierra de Aguas and in the Genal Valley. On the Great Path, it can be detected on stages 5 to 7 and 27 to 29.

CURIOUS FACTS

The resin pine is also called maritime pine because its trunks were used to make the sailing boat masts. That is the reason why some Andalusian mountain ranges where this species developed were declared "maritime provinces" in ancient times. In addition, the resin pine is the main resin producer to make glue and varnish bases.  The turpentine oil is produced after distilling the resin of this pine: the true yellow turpentine, more expensive that some substitutes that are sold as solvents. Another of the resulting products is the rosin, used to make varnishes, dyes, ointments and in perfumery to keep the smell longer before it evaporates. As a waste, when the resinous splinters are burnt, the pitch is obtained to waterproof boots, leather and wine barrels.

SIMILAR SPECIES

It can be confused with other pine species. It mostly differs by its size and the shape of its needles and the dark look of its trunk. It specifically differs from the Aleppo pine because of its stronger aspect, the fact that dry cones do not stay on the plant once the nuts are dispersed and because it has more stringent sharps.

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