A graduate in botany, Nithya Venkat enjoys writing about plants that help sustain life on planet Earth.
Pine trees are evergreen conifers that belong to the genus Pinus in the family Pinaceae. They have a long lifespan that ranges from a hundred years to thousand years when conditions are favorable.
The evolution of Pine trees in the Northern Hemisphere has been recorded during the early Jurassic Period of the Mesozoic Era about 130 – 200 million years ago. These trees are evergreen and retain their leaves for at least two growing seasons before they are shed off.
A majority of these trees are found growing in the Northern Hemisphere except the Sumatran Pine that grows in the Southern Hemisphere. They are valued for their timber and wood pulp.
Pine trees are an important part of Christmas celebrations around the world.
Characteristics of Pine Trees
Pine trees flourish in temperate and subtropical climates. They can be found growing in altitudes of up to 13,000 feet. They grow well in sandy or well-drained soil and can live for over 400 years in favorable growth conditions. The height of pine trees ranges from 10 feet to 245 feet and above and are anchored to the ground with a well-developed tap root system.
The pine trees have thick barks that are scaly. The branches of the pine trees are arranged in whorls around the bark.
The bark of pine trees can be dark and furrowed like the white pine or divide into rectangular plates like the red pine.
Pine trees are resinous in nature. The resin in the tree protects the tree by forming a protective cap over wounds and help in the healing process. The resin also protects the pine trees from fungal infections and insects that invade the trees.
Characteristics of Pine Leaves
The leaves of the pine trees are needle-shaped and are found in clusters of two to five in number along with the branches. Each cluster is bound together at the base.
A sheath is present at the base of each leaf. The leaves remain on the tree for at least two growing seasons. The pine trees can be identified by the number of needles (leaves) in each cluster.
- White Pine has five needles per cluster and is short and shiny
- Red Pine has two needles per cluster, and the needles are long and matte in texture
- The remaining species have two or three needles per bundle
Adaptations of the pine tree leaf to survive winter
1. The leaves of the pine trees are needle-shaped. The needle shape helps the snow to slide off from the leaves and prevents the branches from breaking off due to the heavy weight of snow that accumulates during a snowfall.
The needle shape cuts down the surface area of the leaf and reduces the number of pores on the leaf. When the number of pores is less, the amount of water that escapes the leaf in the form of water vapor is reduced.
2. The surface of the leaf is coated with cutin. Cutin is a wax-like substance that coats the leaves to prevent water from evaporating. The waxy coating also keeps the cells of the leaf from freezing during the cold winter.
Reproduction in Pine Trees
The pine trees reproduce through cones that lodge the male or the female sex organs. Pine trees are monoecious.
The term monoecious means that a single tree will have both the male and the female sex organs. A single cone has only the male (anthers) or only the female (ovary) sex organ.
Cones are equivalent to flowers in angiosperms (flowering plants). The cone does not have sepals or petals. It is a branch that is modified to house the male or the female sex organs.
The seeds are winged and dispersed by wind and animals who consume these seeds.
Roots of Pine trees
Roots of the pine trees start with a primary root that branch out into secondary roots and tertiary roots, also known as root hairs. The roots usually grow down to a level where oxygen and water are limited. Further growth of the roots depends upon the availability of both water and oxygen at that level.
When the soil is extremely wet, the roots may recede. When the soil dries, there is more space for oxygen in the soil and during this time, the roots resume their growth to a deeper level. Most pine roots extend down to about three feet, but they can grow beyond three feet when the texture of the soil is sandy and dry.
In pine trees, the absorption of nutrients takes place in association with a root fungus called “mycorrhiza.” The mycorrhizae grow into the soil from the roots and help in the efficient absorption of water and nutrients. In turn, the mycorrhizae absorb the sugars produced by the pine trees. The pine mycorrhizae are ectropic, meaning that they form a sheath over the root surface.
Uses of Pine Trees
1. The wood of pine trees is used in the manufacture of paneling, window frames, floors, roofing, furniture. Pine plantations are grown specially to harvest timber. Pine plantations can be harvested after thirty years for timber. The value of the harvested wood increases as the age of the pine trees increase.
2. Some species of Pine have large pine seeds (pine nuts). Pinus sibirica, Pinus koraiensis, Pinus pinea, Pinus gerardiana, Pinus monophylla, Pinus edulis are some of the pine trees from which pine nuts are harvested. These pine nuts are used for cooking and baking purposes.
3. Pine trees are rich in a resin called High-Terpene resin. The High-Terpene resin is distilled to get turpentine.
Turpentine is used in the manufacture of varnish and as a solvent. Today Turpentine oil is mainly used as processed synthetic pine oil that is used to make fragrances and to lend fragrance to cleaning agents. Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis), Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda), Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris) are some of the pine trees that yield turpentine.
4. The Scotch pine, Austrian pine, and Monterey pine trees are used as windbreaks, for reforestation, and as ornamental trees.
5. Pine trees are planted in gardens and parks as ornamental plants. They are grown and harvested in large numbers as Christmas trees.
6. Pine cones are hard and durable. These cones are used for craft purposes.
7. Pine trees are homes to squirrels, birds, raccoons and many other animals of the forest.
Impact of Pine Trees on Climate Change
The gases that escape the pine tree leaves in the form of vapor carry the strong scent of pine oil that is a volatile organic compound.
According to the research published in the Nature Journal, the vapor that escapes the leaves of the pine trees have a direct affect on the changing climate.
The tiny particles of vapor that escape the pine tree leaves are converted into aerosols when they react with oxygen present in the air.
The aerosols join together forming clouds that block the sunlight and reflect the rays back into space, thereby helping to reduce the rise in the atmospheric temperature and simultaneously slowing down global warming.
" The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. 22 Apr. 2016<http://www.encyclopedia.com>.
Questions & Answers
Question: What happens in the spring to a pine tree?
Answer: In spring the pine tree enters the “candle phase” during which the pines shoots grow rapidly that results in shoot extension before needle expansion begins.
© 2016 Nithya Venkat
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 18, 2020:
Thank you for your visit and comments.
richard on August 13, 2020:
We are an Island with great pine tree groves towering above out oaks and other shallow root trees. I was told that tall pine trees in clumps protect the other shorter trees with some kind of harmonic dispursing the wind. thoughts?
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on January 30, 2020:
Yes, Louise Powles. The pine trees smell great and look beautiful.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on January 30, 2020:
I do like pine trees. I think they smell so nice, they look beautiful too.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 23, 2018:
Thank you Peggy Pine trees are a delight. Yes you are so right we need a lot of trees to replenish oxygen and to save Earth.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2018:
Pine trees grow well in most of North America and I love them. Often I have made use of pine cones in decorating. The smell of walking in a forest with many pine trees is a delight. We need many pine trees as well as other types of trees to provide oxygen into our atmosphere and reduce the effects of global warming. Nice article!
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 31, 2016:
ladyguitarpicker thank you.
stella vadakin from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619 on August 31, 2016:
Pines are everywhere in Florida, I like them because of the smell and they are pretty. Great Hub, and I learned something new.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 04, 2016:
Jackie thank you and yes they do make great decoration pieces and smell so good. Pine trees are nature's gift to us.
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 01, 2016:
Sorry I missed this. I love pines of every kind and I have certainly made use of the cones my whole life. Free for the taking, smell so good and can make such beautiful ornaments and centerpieces at Christmas time. Great article.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 26, 2016:
rajan jolly pine trees are good wind breakers. Thank you for your visit.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 22, 2016:
I am reminded of the Casurina pine trees that we had grown as windbreakers on our farm long time back. And the scent of pine is just divine.
I love eating pine nuts.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 10, 2016:
Chitrangada Sharan thank you for your visit and comment.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 09, 2016:
This is so interesting and informative hub about Pine trees!
I love Pine trees --and they make me feel romantic at heart--I don't know why!
Honestly I didn't know so many details of Pine trees. To read about their impact on climate change and their adaptation to survive winters is really interesting!
Thanks for the education!
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 01, 2016:
Audrey Howitt growing up with Pine trees in your neighbourhood must have been awesome, thank you for your visit.
Shyron E Shenko thank you for your visit and yes some people do not know about pine nuts and their nutritional value.
Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 01, 2016:
Nithya, the pine is one of my favorite trees and I love trees. I think that most people don't know about the pine nuts. I love them, but don't buy them often because of the cost.
Blessings and hugs
Audrey Howitt from California on May 31, 2016:
Beautiful hub! I grew up with these wonderful trees and love them
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 30, 2016:
aviannovice it must be great to live in such a place. Thank you for your visit.
Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on May 30, 2016:
Nice article. I grew up with assorted conifers such as these. Now that I am in the land of red cedars and loblolly pines and such, I get to look at them more, and learn about the fruit that they produce. So many fall migratory birds enjoy the fruit produced, which gives me a lot of photo opportunities.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 24, 2016:
DDE thank you, pine trees are great.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on May 23, 2016:
Pine trees are beautiful and you share important facts about this unique tree.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 22, 2016:
annart thank you and yes I do agree with you, they look great in their natural habitat.
Ann Carr from SW England on May 21, 2016:
Another interesting 'facts about...' hub. Pine trees can be impressive but I don't like seeing them all in a line; in their natural habitat they are beautiful.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 18, 2016:
AliciaC you are so right there is so much more to learn and so much that we do not know. Thank you for your visit.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 18, 2016:
Thank you for sharing all the facts. I think that pine trees are one of the most interesting types of trees. I always enjoy examining them and learning more about them.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 17, 2016:
Faith Reaper thank you and it must be wonderful to live in a place surrounded by pine trees.
swalia thank you and am glad you came to know more through this hub.
Shaloo Walia from India on May 17, 2016:
Very interesting hub! Many facts were unknown to me. Thanks for sharing!
Faith Reaper from southern USA on May 16, 2016:
I love pine trees too, and grew up surrounded by them and still live where they are all around. That is interesting about climate change.
Very interesting hub.
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 16, 2016:
whounwho thank you for your visit.
Harishprasad I am glad you came to know more through this hub.
always exploring, pine cones are great for decorations and last for a long long time, thank you for your visit.
MsDora thank you for your visit and comment. Pine trees are amazing.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 16, 2016:
Informative and interesting. The reproductive system is amazing. Thanks especially for revealing how the pine affects climate change.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 16, 2016:
This was interesting. I love pine trees. I used to collect the cones when I was a kid. They make nice Christmas decorations.
Harish Mamgain from New Delhi , India on May 16, 2016:
Very interesting facts about pine trees. I've seen pines in the hills very closely, but was not aware of these things about them.
whonunuwho from United States on May 16, 2016:
Interesting info on one of my favorite trees. Thanks for sharing. whonu
Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 16, 2016:
Ericdierker thank you for your visit.
billybuc thank you. there is always something new coming up with ongoing researches.
FlourishAnyway thank you, that would be great.
FlourishAnyway from USA on May 16, 2016:
It's interesting to know about pine trees' impact on climate change. I will plant a few.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 16, 2016:
I live in the "Evergreen State" so we know all about firs and pines...and yet you managed to surprise me with some facts I did not know. I love articles like this one...thank you!
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 16, 2016:
Very cool. Thank you.