The largest of all pines, this species can grow more than 200 ft. tall. When young, the crown is narrow. With age the branches are well-spaced and wide-spreading, creating a flat-topped crown. Older bark is reddish-brown with plate-like ridges. Cones can be up to 18 in. long. Needles are in groups of five. Large, very tall tree with a straight trunk unbranched for a long span and open, conical crown of long, nearly horizontal branches, bearing giant cones near the ends; becoming flat-topped.
A major lumber species, Sugar Pine is one of the most beautiful and largest pines and has been called the king of pines. The trunk diameter occasionally reaches 6-8 (1.8-2.4 m); the current champion is 10 (3 m) in diameter, and the tallest tree recorded was 241 (73.5 m) high. No other conifer has such long cones, reaching a maximum of 21 (53 cm). Sugar Pine provided early settlers of California with wood for their houses, especially shingles or shakes, and with fences. Forty-niners made ample use of the wood for flumes, sluice boxes, bridges, and mine timbers. American Indians gathered and ate the large, sweet seeds. The common name refers to the sweetish resin that exudes from cut or burned heartwood which was also eaten by Indians.
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