A hybrid pine is a combination of two different but closely related strains of pine tree. Hybrids can be formed accidentally or intentionally, through cross-pollination. A useful hybrid combines desirable features of both parent trees to get something better than either, for a particular purpose.
Attractive Christmas Trees
The U.S. Forest Service developed a hybrid Christmas tree out of two subspecies of lodgepole pine: the shore pine and the mountain pine. Like the shore pine, it grows quickly and has "multinodal growth, thick green foliage, and persistent cones." Like the mountain pine, however, it has a "sturdy, well-formed crown" which is more attractive than the irregular crown of the shore pine. The combination of quick growth and an attractive appearance make hybrids ideal Christmas trees.
Increased Timber Production
Hybridizing pines can increase the timber production by creating a species capable of living in the terrain of the slower parent but with growth speed comparable to the faster parent. According to Farming in Science, the slow-growing Jeffrey pine was crossed with the faster Coulter pine and after three years of growing, the hybrid plant "was 184 percent taller than the pure Jeffrey pine" and about the same size as a Coulter pine. It was then planted in the range where Jeffrey pines usually grow in to increase timber production.
Rapid Landscape Development
The hybrids usually surpass their parents in various traits, which is a phenomenon known as hybrid vigor or heterosis. A hybrid pine may grow faster or taller, have better tolerance to disease or be able to stand a wider variety of climate conditions than either parent, making it more useful. When pollen from an Eastern pine was crossed with a seed from the Western white pine, for example, the progeny grew it a much more rapid rate than either parent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The hybrid grew to 232 percent the typical height of a Western white pine (the taller parent) in three years.