California Foothill Pine (Sabiniana)

The California Foothill Pine (Sabiniana) is generally described as a perennial tree. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the early spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are retained year to year. The California Foothill Pine (Sabiniana) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a slow growth rate. At maturity, the typical California Foothill Pine (Sabiniana) will reach up to 80 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 20 feet.

The California Foothill Pine (Sabiniana) is usually not commercially available except under contract. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below 12°F. has high tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: The seeds of gray pine were eaten by many California Indian tribes and are still served in Native American homes today. They can be eaten fresh and whole in the raw state, roasted, or pounded into flour and mixed with other types of seeds. The seeds were eaten by the Pomo, Sierra Miwok, Western Mono, Wappo, Salinan, Southern Maidu, Lassik, Costanoan, and Kato, among others. Sierra Miwok men climbed the trees and twisted the green cones off by hand before the seeds were fully developed. These immature cones were roasted for 20 minutes in hot ashes, yielding a brown, sweet syrup. The pitch of the gray pine was used as a medicine by the Western Mono and the branches were made into household utensils for stirring acorn mush. The Costanoan used the pitch as a treatment for rheumatism. The needles were used for thatch, bedding, and floor covering and the bark for house covering by the Sierra Miwok. The branches and roots were used in California Indian basketry and still gathered to a limited extent by contemporary weavers.

Wildlife: Numerous birds feed on the seeds of gray pine including the red-shafted flicker, California jay, and band-tailed pigeon. The foliage, bark, and seeds provide food for black bears, Douglas chickarees, and gray squirrels. Mule and white-tailed deer browse the foliage and twigs.

General Characteristics

General: Pine Family (Pinaceae). This native tree reaches 38 m in height with a trunk less than 2 m wide. The gray-green foliage is sparse and it has three needles per bundle. Each needle reaches 9-38 cm in length. The trunk often grows in a crooked fashion and is deeply grooved when mature. The seed cone of gray pine is pendent, 10-28 cm, and opens slowly during the second season, dispersing winged seeds.

Required Growing Conditions

It ranges in parts of the California Floristic Province, the western Great Basin and western deserts. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Cultivation and Care

Adaptation: This tree is found in the foothill woodland, northern oak woodland, chaparral, mixed conifer forests and hardwood forests from 150-1500m.

Extract seeds from the cones and gently rub the wings off, and soak them in water for 48 hours, drain them, and thoroughly surface-dry. Put seeds in a plastic bag, without any medium, seal the bag and place them in refrigerated conditions until their chilling treatment begins. Allow three times the air space as seed space in the bag. It is best to sow the seeds in May and therefore, expose the seeds to a chilling treatment of at least sixteen weeks prior to sowing. After cold stratification, plant the seeds in a well-drained coarse potting mix in leach tubes that are narrow but deep with two seeds per tube. These containers should allow roots to reach the air and stop growing and be at least 6 inches deep. Fertilize the containers with a starter formulation of fertilizer with low or zero nitrogen. These containers can be kept in a greenhouse for the first 4 to 6 weeks, receiving 70-degree temperatures during the day. Keep the surface of the soil moist during the germination phase. Next after the first set of cotyledons, water the plants with a deep, thorough soaking and let the plants dry in between watering. Thin the plants down to one per container and move the pots into a shade-house with 30 percent shade after 4 to 6 weeks. Protect the plants from wind and wildlife. During the main summer growing season use a balanced fertilizer applied to each container. At the end of the growing season use a finisher formulation of fertilizer. Plant the plants in the ground outside in the late winter or early spring in moist soil. Conduct supplemental hand watering or irrigation if the rains are insufficient. Clear weeds in a 3 feet by 3 feet area around the plants to encourage better survival and growth rate. Make sure a protective barrier is placed around the conifers such as vexar tubing to shield them from jack rabbits, deer and other wildlife that may feed on the leaves, stems, and roots.

General Upkeep and Control

The Pomo pruned the trees periodically. PISI"General: Sitka spruce prefers cool temperatures and moisture soil. Several times in the spring, pinch the new growth of young seedlings when shoots are about one inch long to check if watering is necessary. Major pruning should be done in the early fall and all the needles should never be removed. "

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Slow
General Type Tree
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Contracting Only
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Early Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Single Stem
Drought Tolerance High
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 80
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements Low
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature 12
Soil Depth for Roots 40
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 6–8.3 pH
Precipitation Range 14–14 inches/yr
Planting Density 430–1200 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 40
Minimum Frost-Free Days 230 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention Yes
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA