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Pinus lambertiana (Sugar pine)
Reveal, James L.

Pinus lambertiana

Pinus lambertiana Douglas

Sugar Pine

Pinaceae (Pine Family)


USDA Symbol: pila

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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.


From the Image Gallery

4 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 200 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


Native Distribution: Mts. from s. CA to OR; n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Yellow pine & red fir forests from 2500-9000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Sugar pine is best grown in groves. It is susceptible to blister rust.


Description: Propagate by seed.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

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:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2019-08-19
Research By: TWC Staff

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