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Pinus coulteri

Pinus coulteri D. Don

Coulter Pine

Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Synonym(s): Pinus ponderosa ssp. coulteri

USDA Symbol: pico3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A 30-75 ft., conifer with a broad pyramidal or sometimes asymmetrical crown. The long, stiff, deep-green needles are up to 12 in. in length. Huge cones remain on the tree for several years. Straight-trunked tree with rows of nearly horizontal branches formed annually, an open, thin, irregular crown, and very large, heavy cones.

This pine has the heaviest cones of all pines in the world, often weighing 4-5 pounds (1.8-2.3 kilos). The lightweight, soft wood serves for rough lumber and fuel. Indians once gathered and ate the large seeds; now squirrels and other wildlife consume the annual crop. It was discovered in 1831 by Thomas Coulter (1793-1843), the Irish botanist and physician, who collected plants in Mexico and California.


From the Image Gallery

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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. Trunk to about 3 feet in diameter.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


Native Distribution: Inner Coast Ranges of c. & s. CA; n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Warm, dry, rocky slopes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Dry, rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Drought tolerant. Can grow at a rate of 10 ft. per year.


Description: Propagate by seed.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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.

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1984 VOL. 1, NO.4 - Lady Bird Heartened by Progress, Horticultural Society Annual Meeting Held, Dire...

Additional resources

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


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

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