What Pine Trees Are Natural to Arizona?
Arizona has a few pine tree species that occur naturally in the state. Among them is the ponderosa pine, an evergreen tree that has a very wide geographic distribution in the western part of North America. Two smaller Arizona pine trees are the two-needle pinyon pine and the limber pine, which exists in limited numbers in the wild in Arizona.
Two-Needle Pinyon Pine
The two-needle pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) grows between 15 and 35 feet tall with a trunk that is 1 or 2 feet wide. The Nearctica website, founded by research scientist Robert W. Poole, states that this Arizona pine species grows often with juniper trees in the dry woodlands. The two-needle pinyon pine can also exist on plateaus, mesas and in rocky canyons. In Arizona, the tree grows mostly in the northern half of the state. The trunk often contorts as the tree grows in the open, exposed to the wind. One of the features of this species is their ability to live for long periods. Some can live for as long as 800 years. Older pinyon pines lack lower branches in many instances, but have a rounded crown, with the needles a dark green color. Pinyon pinecones require two years to mature but contain a tasty nut that both humans and wildlife crave. The tree is a popular species for use as a Christmas tree, as it is aromatic.
Red-brown bark divided into scaly plates is one of the trademarks of the mature ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), another common Arizona pine tree. Ponderosa pine grows from Canada to Mexico and in Arizona exists throughout much of the state with the exception of the southwest corner. Ponderosa pine has 8 to 10 inch long, light-green needles growing on the branches in bundles of threes. The tree can grow to well over 100 feet under good conditions and produces a reddish-brown cone that often develops in side-by-side pairs. Ponderosa pine resists fire with the help of very thick bark. The species grows best in full sun in well-draining acidic soil. In addition to being an important lumber species, the ponderosa pine has use as a windbreak or a specimen tree.
Limber pine (Pinus flexilis) grows naturally in Arizona in a small section in the north-central part of the state. Limber pine grows to as tall as 50 feet but averages between 20 and 30 feet high. The needles grow in bundles of fives and the chunky cones are a light-brown color. Limber pine has dark-gray bark on the mature trees. Limber pine needs full sun to flourish and has landscaping uses as a specimen tree and as a screen tree, according to the University of Connecticut Plant Database website. Limber pine comes in different cultivars, such as Extra Blue, which has blue needles as its highlight. Another type, Nana, is a dwarf hybrid that takes on a bushy form and possesses bluish-green needles.