Pinus radiata (Radiata Pine)
Species: P. radiata
Binomial name: Pinus radiata
Common name: Radiata Pine, Insignis Pine, Monterey Pine
Pinus radiata is a species of pine native to the Central Coast of California and is the most widely planted pine in the world, valued for rapid growth and desirable lumber and pulp qualities. It is the most extensively used wood in New Zealand.
Pinus radiata is a coniferous evergreen tree growing to between 15–30 m in height in the wild, but up to 60 m in cultivation in optimum conditions, with upward pointing branches and a rounded top. The leaves ('needles') are bright green, in clusters of three (two in var. binata), slender, 8–15 cm long and with a blunt tip. The cones are 7–17 cm long, brown, ovoid (egg-shaped), and usually set asymmetrically on a branch, attached at an oblique angle. The bark is fissured and dark grey to brown.
Pinus radiata was first introduced into New Zealand in 1859 and today 89% of the country's plantation forests are of this species. This includes the Kaingaroa Forest on the central plateau of the North Island which is the largest planted forest in the world. Mass plantings became common from 1900 in the Rotorua area where prison labour was used.
In some areas it is considered an invasive species (termed a wilding conifer or more commonly wilding pine) where it has escaped from plantations like Pseudotsuga menziesii and Pinus contorta species of pine. This listing in NZ as an invasive species is due to their seeds being dispersed by the wind, sometimes into tussock grasslands. Wilding pines are a nuisance in areas where native forest does not occur, such as above the bushline, in mineral belts and tussock grasslands. In areas such as these it creates a major intrusion and modification to natural ecosystems.
In areas where native forest regrowth is being encouraged pines are visually intrusive. They compete for forest space with native trees and plants, but provide none of the advantages these offer, such as berries and nectar, to encourage bird life and insects. Pine needles form a carpet which discourages regeneration of native forest floor species. If nothing is done, the grasslands become pine forest. Small pine seedlings can be pulled out by hand, but larger trees need to be felled and their stumps coated with herbicide.
A stand of Pinus radiata
A young wild pine.
Male cones are always on the lower branches.
Closed female cones always at the top of the tree.
A closed cone.
Open cones on a tree.
Open coine seeds gone.
The winged seed of Pinus radiata.