Pinus radiata D.Don

Monterey Pine

Densely foliaged tree 25-50 m tall. Bark thick, dark brown to black, deeply furrowed. Buds cylindric to ovoid, about 1-2 cm long, non-resinous. Young shoots varying from grey (but not waxy) to shades of brown. Leaves in 3's, rarely 2's, 10-14 cm long in dense clusters, slender, spreading, dark shining green; sheath persistent, to 1.5 cm long. Male cones Aug-Sept. Female cones single or in groups of 4-7 or more, mostly 8-12 cm or occasionally to 15 cm long, 7-9 cm wide, broadly ovoid, distinctly asymmetric and often remaining on the tree for several years; scales at the base of the long side generally swollen, rounded and sometimes slightly curved. Seeds 7-9 mm long, dark coloured, with wings 2-3 cm long.

Restricted in its natural distribution to 5 localities; 2 small Mexican islands, Guadalupe and Cedros off Baja California, and 3 small mainland populations. First described in 1837 and known for many years as P. insignis which was a name applied in 1844. This species, together with the closely-related P. attenuata and P. muricata (also with knobbed scales on one side of the cone) form a natural group of species from California and nearby islands. Spread of plants from plantations into indigenous vegetation occurs chiefly in Tasmania, the NE of Victoria, also in the Perth region, South Australia and cooler districts of New South Wales and Queensland. It is also naturalised on the Cape of South Africa and the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Experience in Victoria indicates the average life-span of P. radiata as 80-100 years although it appears that in exceptional cases this may extend to 150 years.

California & Islands off Baja California.

Widely planted, not only as a commercial timber but also as a windbreak and shelter for stock. Treated pine is widely used for construction. The wood can be worked easily and used for pulp, paper, veneeer, structural and decorative sawn timber. var. radiata This quick-growing tree, which yields high quality timber in a range of environmental conditions, is a major world source of softwood. New Zealand and Chile have vast plantations each of which double the yield of those in Australia and there are also large plantations in South Africa, Spain and Portugal. It is the major pine of commercial plantations in southern states. In the plantations of the Aire Valley of the Otways, Victoria, some of the world's largest trees of this species may be found, heights of as much as 65 m being reported. The first firm record of introduction of the tree is of a batch of seed for Melbourne and Sydney Botanic Gardens on the 'Duncan Dunbar' which berthed at Sydney in Dec. 1857. If this was its first introduction then the seed was soon distributed because Adcocks Nursery of Geelong lists P. insignis for the year 1857. A catalogue of the species of the Hobart Bot. Gds compiled between 1845 and 1857 includes P. insignis and Mueller's Catalogue of Plants for Melbourne Botanic Gardens lists it in 1858. In 1860 it appears in the Victorian Rules' Nursery catalogue and it was widely available in other nurseries in the 1860s, also in the 1860s passing from Melbourne Bot. Gds to landowners and state reserves and possibly to other states, notably to South Australia in 1866 and Tasmania a few years later. Mueller's suggestion, as early as 1859, that it would be a good plantation species was first taken up by South Australia in 1876 with Victoria following in 1880 with the first plantation at Mt Macedon, and in the late 1880s at Creswick and the You Yangs. Canberra plantations were initially established to cover hillsides denuded by clearing and overgrazing: it was not until 1925 that it was recommended for commercial timber production with the aim of making the ACT self-sufficient in softwood. The first major planting in Tasmania was in 1921, the largest plantations now being in the north of the island. By 1925 all southern states had plantation programs based on P. radiata. In New Zealand the timber industry was based, from 1840 to about 1905, largely on the endemic Kauri, Agathis australis; P. radiata then became the major commercial species: records are uncertain but it was well established there by 1865 with Pseudotsuga menziesii being the second most important timber tree in New Zealand and P. nigra being used on poor soils.

Black deeply furrowed bark; asymmetric cones with scales generally swollen at base of long side.

Fielding (1957), Simpfendorfer (1966), Lavery (1986), Minko &Aeberli (1986), Millar (1986), Shepherd (1990), Boden (1991).

SA: Birdwood (3 km from Birdwood Post Office on Birdwood - Mt Torrens Road); Mt Burr (One of the first pines planted in the South East of South Australia in the late 1880s); Mt Gambier (Blue Lake; Western edge of Leg of Mutton Lake, one of the first pines planted in Mt Gambier in the late 1880s); Penola (Yallum Park). NSW: Berrima (Park, ptd c. 1883); Exeter (road to Broughton Hotel); Green Hills (State Forest, 48.5 m in 1984, ptd 1923); Guyra (St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church); Orange (Duntry League Golf Club); Sutton Forest (cemetery); Sydney (Centennial Park); Wee Jasper State Forest (51 m in 1984 ptd 1930). ACT: Braddon (Haig Park, ptd c. 1917); City Hill (established in the 1920s as part of Burley Griffin's design and defining one point of the Parliamentary Triangle, classified by the ACT National Trust in 1982); Duntroon (Officers Mess lawn, ptd c. 1880); Govt House (ptd c. 1880); Reid (St John's Church); Royal Canberra Hospital North (ptd 1912 as shelter belt planting round nursery site at Acton). VIC: Ballarat (Dykes Pde, Gregory St); Bickleigh Vale; Blackwood (Recreation Reserve); Coburg (De Chene Park); Camperdown ('Talindert'); Creswick (Forestry School, next to main building); Heidelberg (Heidelberg Park); Kew (Victoria Park); Korumburra (Public Park); Melbourne (Royal Bot. Gds next to Gate B); Moyston (Avenue of Honour planted 1933 in Halls Gap Road); Nunawading (N Antonio Park); Romsey ('Dromkeen'); Smeaton (near Creswick 'Smeaton House'); St Arnaud (Bot. Gds); Walhalla (cemetery, 13 specimens c. 120 years old, several extremely tall). TAS: Launceston (Arbour Park; Cataract Gorge; City Park); New Norfolk (Riverside).


var. binata, Two-leaved Radiata Pine is occasionally encountered .

Cedros & Guadalupe Islands (Baja California). Leaves in 2's with smaller cones 5-9 cm long having less pronounced swollen knobs on the scales. Very rare in cultivation. Paired leaves are occasionally found among the 3's on var. radiata, a character that complicates identification especially as these may sometimes form a majority as on the Newhaven specimen listed below.

VIC: Kyneton (Bot. Gds Apex Park, probable); Malmsbury (Bot. Gds, probable); Phillip Island (Newhaven foreshore, tree with leaves mostly in 2's but probably var. radiata).

Source: Spencer, R. (1995). Pinaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1, Ferns, conifers & their allies. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

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Distribution map

Pinus radiata 'Aurea'

Yellow-leaved. Raised in New Zealand, the original tree on the South Island c. 40 years old in 1991.

Pinus radiata 'Colleen'

('Gold Nugget') Upright and dense when young developing a leader after a few years; colour best in summer. Grows about 15 cm a year. Golden sport or witches broom named for the wife of Peter Nitschke, Australia.

Pinus radiata 'Freeway'

Dwarf, dark green, globose. Grows to a diameter of about 1.3 m in 10 years. Witches broom found near Crafters, South Australia by Peter Nitschke and introduced c. 1983.

Pinus radiata 'Globe'

Dwarf, compact, globose, growing c. 3-5 cm a year. Selection made by Peter Nitschke of South Australia from seedlings grown from a witches broom; introduced c. 1980.

Pinus radiata 'Goldie'

Dense, compact, small, broadly conical tree; branches varying in thickness along the length. Needles thin and bright gold, especially in winter. Grows to c. 15 cm a year. Seedling of 'Colleen' grown by Peter Nitschke, South Australia.

Pinus radiata 'Jacob'

S Gem' Dark green, dense, broadly conical but narrowing with age; needles long. Grows to 2 m in 10 years. Selection discovered by Peter Nitschke of South Australia that cones, producing viable seed from which other dwarf selections have been made.

Pinus radiata 'Kenton'

Dark green forming a small, dense green ball. Grows to c. 75 cm wide in 10 years. Selection made by Peter Nitschke from a witches broom near Kenton, South Australia.

Pinus radiata 'Mortimer Bay'

New growth green but soon becoming variegated. Needles yellow and green banded with yellow tips; colouring is best in summer. Grows to 4 m in 10 years. Found as a seedling growing in sand dunes at Mortimer Bay, southeast of Hobart, Tasmania c. 1984.

Pinus radiata 'Nitschke'

Compact and flat-topped without a leader; needles pale green and mostly in pairs except near the terminal buds. Grows c. 10 cm a year. Selection by Peter Nitschke, South Australia from a witches broom found at Littlehampton, South Australia.

Pinus radiata 'Ross'

Dwarf, globose, growing c. 6 cm a year. A witches broom found at Ross, Tasmania by Peter Nitschke and Ron Radford in 1983.

Pinus radiata 'Surrey Hills'

Foliage with patches of yellow and occasionally whole branches yellow; will burn late in the season. Grows to 6 m tall in 10 years. Found as a seedling and introduced c. 1980.

Pinus radiata 'Tooperang'

Distinctively conical habit; foliage dark green and dense with longish needles. Found as a witches broom c. 1980 by Peter Nitschke, South Australia.

Pinus radiata 'Weewilly'

Dwarf, rounded with relatively long needles (longer than those of 'Globe'). Witches broom seedling raised by Peter Nitschke, South Australia. var. binata Lemmon

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Pinopsida
order     Pinales
family      Pinaceae
genus       Pinus L.