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Pinus attenuata

Pinus attenuata Lemmon

Knobcone Pine, Knob-cone Pine

Pinaceae (Pine Family)


USDA Symbol: piat

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A small pine tree, knob-cone pine normally stays 15-30 ft. tall in cultivation. In the wild it can grow to 75 ft. With age it forms a straggling crown. Its needles are a bright, lime-green. Scales on the tightly closed cones enlarge into prominent knobs. These cones remain on the tree for years, releasing seed only after a fire.

The whorls of many knobby, closed cones help identify this species. Since the cones may become imbedded within the wood of the expanding trunk, this species has been called "the tree that swallows its cones." When fires kill the trees, cones as much as 30 years old are opened by the heat and shed their seeds. The abundant seedlings then begin a new forest.


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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 75 feet tall, often shorter.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable


Native Distribution: CA & s.w. OR
Native Habitat: Dry barren, chalky or rocky pine or oak groves below 4000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Various dry soils.
Conditions Comments: Konbcone pine has a fast growth rate and is tolerant of wind and heat. P. x attenuradiata is the name given to a commercially available hybrid between this species and P. radiata. This hybrid occurs naturally near Swanton in Santa Cruz Co., CA.


Description: Easily propagated by seed.
Seed Collection: Cones can be induced to open be keeping them in a warm place for a few weeks.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA

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


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

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