How to Identify Scots Pine Varieties With Peeling Bark


Scots pine (or Scotch pine) is a species of tree widely grown and cut for use as Christmas tree because its stiff branches are well-suited to hold decorations. The tree is an extremely hardy species that can adapt to a wide variety of soils and conditions. The Scots pine comes from Europe and Asia and is the only pine native to Scotland. It was brought to North America during colonial times, and has naturalized in parts of New England, around the Great Lakes and in southern Canada.

Step 1

First examine the shape. If it's a small tree it may look like a traditional Christmas tree with a pyramid shape. Older Scots pines grow 30 to 50 feet tall and often break into multiple, forked and twisted trunks when they reach a mature height. They lose the pyramid shape as they mature because new branches do not form near the ground.

Step 2

Examine the bark. The bark of a Scots pine is reddish-brown and forms flaky plates that may appear to be peeling off on the older and lower part of the trunk.

Step 3

Look at the needles. The Scots pine, like other evergreens, has stiff, thin needles instead of flat leaves. The needles grow in pairs and are relatively short, from 1 to 3 inches. They can be yellowish green to a bluish color.

Step 4

Examine the cones. Scots pines have small egg-shaped cones without spiky prickles on the back of the scales.

Things You'll Need

  • Scots pine


  • National Christmas Tree Association: Scotch Pine
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Scotch Pine
  • Arkive: Scots Pine
Keywords: scots pine id, scotch pine tree, christmas tree type

About this Author

Denise Bertacchi is a freelance writer with a degree in journalism from Southeast Missouri State University. She is a St. Louis suburbanite who has written for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Boys' Life, Wisconsin Trails, and Missouri Life.