Scots Pine (Sylvestris)

The Scots Pine (Sylvestris) is generally described as a perennial tree. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the mid spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are retained year to year. The Scots Pine (Sylvestris) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Scots Pine (Sylvestris) will reach up to 110 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 30 feet.

The Scots Pine (Sylvestris) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. 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 -36°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Windbreaks: Plant Scots pine in the central or leeward rows of multi-row plantings. It is also recommended for planting as single-row windbreaks.

Wildlife: Scots pine is of some importance as food and cover for many birds and small mammals. Although the plant is browsed by whitetail and mule deer, it is not a preferred forage.

Timber/Christmas tree plantations: Scots pine is suitable for ornamental and screen plantings. Its year long coloration adds variety to recreation plantings.

General Characteristics

Scots pine is an evergreen, spreading tree 80 to 100 feet, pyramidal when young, becoming round topped and irregular in age. The tree is introduced from Eurasia, and has become naturalized in eastern North America. It is cultivated for windbreaks, timber, and Christmas tree plantations. It does best on rich, moist soils, but its winter hardiness and moderate drought tolerance enable it to do well on other soils. It is moderately slow growing, but is long lived.

Description Fruits are tawny-yellow, oblong, symmetrical cones, 1 to 2 inches long. Clusters of flowers are yellow, minute, male and female. Needles occur in bunches of 2, are stout and usually twisted, 1 to 3 inches long, and bluish-green in color. Scots pine branches are spreading, and stems are often crooked in early years. The plant’s bark is orange, thin and smooth on upper trunk, dark and fissured below. The tree’s root system is widespread, moderately deep, and wind-firm.

Required Growing Conditions

Scots pine is distributed throughout the Northeast and upper Midwest.

Cultivation and Care

Plantings should be established during the spring of the year on weed free sites. Stand establishment can be enhanced by using 2 year old field-grown stock. Holes or furrows should be deep enough to contain roots without bending.

General Upkeep and Control

Weed control is recommended in areas where the tree is grown for shade or Christmas tree plantings. It is also good to shape the tree for the form that you would like to have at time of harvest.

Pests and Potential Problems There are several wood boring, root feeding, foliage feeding, and twig boring insects that attack this tree. The most common pest are cyclaneusma needle cast, western gall rust, Lophodermium needle cast, tip moth, sawflies, pine needle scales and giant conifer aphid.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) Scots pine has several intergrading cultivars, differing chiefly in leaf color and growth form. Most have ready use as Christmas trees, although leaves of some cultivars turn yellow-green in winter. Seedlings are available at most commercial conifer nurseries. Seed origin is extremely important in obtaining quality trees for a given sub-region. Consult the state extension forester for information from provenance testing to determine the best seed source for your planting.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Tree
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Introduced to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Mid Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Single Stem
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 110
Vegetative Spread None
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 Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -36
Soil Depth for Roots 20
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5–7.5 pH
Precipitation Range 24–24 inches/yr
Planting Density 430–1200 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 20
Minimum Frost-Free Days 120 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance Low
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention Yes
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No

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