Conifers Garden - Online Conifer Nursery


Pinus balfouriana

Pinus balfouriana
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Scientific name: Pinus balfouriana   Greville & J. Balfour   1853

Synonyms:  -

Common names:Foxtail pine  



Tree to 20(-25) m tall, with trunk to 1.5(-2.6) m in diameter. Bark gray or bright reddish brown, becoming narrowly and irregularly ridged and furrowed on breaking up into broader plates. Crown narrowly to broadly conical, becoming irregular with age, with numerous short, upwardly arching or long, gently downswept branches densely clothed with foliage (hence the common name, since these branches look, fancifully, like green foxtails). Twigs reddish brown, hairless or minutely hairy at first, becoming yellowish gray and bald with age. Buds 8-10 mm long, resinous. Needles in bundles of five, each needle 1.5-4 cm long, stiff, straight, and remaining tight together, lasting 7-30 years, dark bluish to yellowish green, without resin flakes. Individual needles with lines of stomates only on the inner faces, an undivided midvein, and two medium-sized resin canals touching the ungrooved epidermis of the outer face. Sheath scales 5-10 mm long, curling back and soon shed. Pollen cones 6-10 mm long, red. Seed cones 6-9(-11) cm long, egg-shaped and sharply tapered at the base, with 70-90 scales, purple before maturity, ripening brown to reddish brown, opening widely to release the seeds and then falling intact with the 7-to 18-mm-long stalk. Seed scales paddle-shaped, thin but thicker at the exposed tip, with diamond-shaped umbo on the exposed face bearing a minute, week prickle to 1 mm ling. Seed body about 7-10 mm long, pale with dark speckles, the easily detachable wing 10-20 mm long.

Klamath Mountains and southern Sierra Nevada of California. Often forming pure subalpine stads in the south or mixed with other montane conifers on the north, usually on upper slopes or exposed ridges; (1,500-)2,000-3,500(-4,000) m.



Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened

(There are two main areas, separated by nearly 500 km, but the northern area has two locations, one with a much smaller subpopulation than the other. Fragmentation and number of locations therefore also fall within the threshold for Endangered; however, the population appears to be stable at present and there is no evidence of past decline within the last few hundred years. Climate change and air pollution (the latter only relevant to the southern subpopulation) are potential threats. It is therefore appropriate to list this species as Near Threatened)



Farjon, A. (2010). A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.

Eckenwalder, J.E. (2009) Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference. Timber Press, Portland.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Cambridge, UK /Gland, Switzerland


Copyright © Aljos Farjon, James E. Eckenwalder, IUCN, Conifers Garden. All rights reserved.

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