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Pinus cembroides (Mexican pinyon)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Pinus cembroides

Pinus cembroides Zucc.

Mexican Pinyon, Mexican Pinyon Pine, Pinyon, Nut Pine, Border Pinyon

Pinaceae (Pine Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Mexican pinyon is a small, bushy evergreen, usually 15-30 ft. tall, with a compact, rounded crown and rich, blue-green needles occurring in bundles of three. Small, resinous tree with short trunk and spreading crown of low, horizontal branches and thick-walled, edible seeds; often shrubby.

The hard seeds are the main commercial pinyon nuts (pinones) of Mexico. However, in the United States this species has limited distribution and usually bears light cone crops; other species with thin-walled seeds are more common. Rodents, especially "packrats," eat the seeds.


From the Image Gallery

7 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Fascicled
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Up to about 50 feet tall, often shorter.
Leaf: Dark Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


Native Distribution: C. & w. TX to s.e. AZ & n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Pinyon-juniper woodlands or mesas and mountain slopes; 5000 to 7500 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Dry, rocky soils. Caliche type, Limestone-based Sandy Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: Seeds are oily and edible.


Description: Sow fresh, untreated seed in late fall. Seedlings are quite susceptible to damping-off.
Seed Collection: Collect cones from vigorous trees in late summer and fall just before they completely open to drop seeds. Spread cones on racks to dry so they will release seeds. Cones may be shaken to release seeds. Store at a moisture content of 5-10 % fresh weight.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Prevent complete soil dryness, Prune to maintain shape, Remove dead growth, Fertilize 3 times a year with lawn fertilizer 3:1:2 ratio

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-1242 Collected 2008-10-25 in Jeff Davis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 766 - Dale Groom's Texas Gardening Guide (2002) Groom, D.
Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Pinus cembroides in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Pinus cembroides in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Pinus cembroides


Record Modified: 2022-09-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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