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Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Diputación de Málaga

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris)


It is a large bearing tree (up to 40 m high) with a thick trunk, characterized by the fact that its upper part gets an orange or salmon colour once it loses the thick part of its bark and leaves the inner part discovered, like paper.  This character can even be noticed from afar, so the Scots pine is easily differentiated from other species. The leaves are of a blue tone, they appear in groups of two, they are sharp-shaped (2-6 cm long), a bit shorter than in other species. The cones are small (3 to 6 cm long) and are sitting on the branches (directly supported by them), or with a very short stem. The pine nuts (the seed) are very small and have a wing helping their dispersion by the wind once the cone ripens and opens.


This species is really adapted to the cold and wet climates of the Southern mountains, provided there is enough rainfall. It is indifferent to the type of substrate. It can develop on acid soils (siliceous) or basic (calcareous), between 1000 and 2000 meters above sea level. It does not bear heat nor drought.


It is a monoecious species (there are male and female flowers on a single specimen). Flowers appear from March to May. Female cones are slightly bigger than males. The cones are small and rounded and appear at the end of summer, but they do not ripen nor spread the pine nuts until the spring or summer of the third year. They disperse their pine nuts thanks to small wings that help their propagation by the wind. Each of them contains two pine nuts.


This species has very strict requirements, so it is not common and only appears in some specific points of the highest Malaga mountain ranges, like the Sierra de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama. It can not directly be observed on the Great Path, although it can be observed on glimpsed canopies from the stages 5 to 6. 


The Scots pine has the most appreciated wood of all the Iberian pines. It produces large shafts with scarce nodes, very adapted to construction and fabrication of boards, beams, sleepers, masts, etc. Moreover, its essential oils and resins are used in traditional medicine and antiseptics or to prevent lung diseases. And in alternative medicine in aromatherapy and homoeopathy treatments  It is also used in the chemical industry to scent disinfectants, soaps, bath salts, detergents or softeners. Recent archaeological studies performed in the Nerja cavern have revealed the use of this species to light inside the cavern thanks to cone and resin combustion, which suggests that this species might have been more common and more extended in former times in Malaga.


All the pine species are quite similar. The size of the cones and sharp as well as the pink tone of the trunk help to differentiate the Scots pine from others. Moreover, its environmental requirements must also be considered, as it is a species from high mountains.

Plant Life > Árboles, arbustos y herbáceas
Flowers Frutos