Conifers Garden - Online Conifer Nursery


Pinus koraiensis

Pinus koraiensis
  •  - Click to enlarge
  •  - Click to enlarge
  •  - Click to enlarge

Scientific name: Pinus koraiensis  P. Siebold & Zuccarini  1842

Synonyms: Apinus koraiensis(Siebold & Zucc.) Moldenke, Pinus cembra var. excelsa Maxim. ex Rupr., Pinus cembra var. mandschurica (Rupr.) Carrière, Pinus koraiensis subsp. prokoraiensis (Y.T.Zhao, J.M.Lu & A.G.Gu) Silba, Pinus mandschurica Rupr., Pinus prokoraiensis Y.T.Zhao, J.M.Lu & A.G.Gu, Strobus koraiensis (Siebold & Zucc.) Moldenke

Common names: Korean pine, Korean nut pine, Chinese pinenut, Hong song (Chinese), Channamu (Korean)



Tree to 30(-50) m tall, with trunk to 1(-1.5) m in diameter, often forking. Bark grayish brown and smooth at first, darkening, flaking, and becoming irregularly and shallowly furrowed with age. Crown deeply dome-shaped, with numerous thin branches angled upward and then gradually becoming horizontal, with foliage in tufts near the ends. Twigs rich reddish brown and densely minutely hairy at first, becoming gray and bald. Buds 10-18 mm long, sparsely to densely resinous. Needles in bundles of five, each needle (6-)8-12(-13) cm long, flexible, usually lasting 2-3 years, dark green on the outer face, whitish green with wax over the lines of stomates on the inner faces. Individual needles with an undivided midvein and three (to five) modest resin canals deep in the leaf tissue near the corners. Sheath 5-15 mm long, soon shed. Pollen cones 15-20 mm long, red. Seed cones 9-11(-14) cm long, cylindrical, with about 90 seed scales, green to purple before maturity, ripening reddish brown, the scales spreading enough to expose the seeds but not release them and falling the following year. Seed scales diamond-shaped, thick and somewhat fleshy where the seeds are nestled, with an elongate tip slightly curled back and ending in a small, triangular umbo. Seed body (12-)14-17 mm long, unwinged.

Amur River region of far eastern Russian and northeastern China, south through Korea and in central Honshū (Japan). Usually mixed with other conifers in subalpine forests on rocky mountain slopes; (200-)600-2,000(-2,500) m. The climate has a summer monsoon character within proximity of the coast, but with a strong continental influence further inland. Temperature extremes range from +37° C to -45° C within its natural range.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern

Pinus koraiensis has a wide distribution in the Russian Far East, northeast China and North Korea. Smaller subpopulations also occur in South Korea and Japan. In the Russian Far East legal and illegal exploitation for its timber has resulted in a decline in its area of occupancy of up to 50%. In China over-exploitation for its edible nuts and to a lesser extent, its timber is leading to forest degradation in some areas. There is little species specific information about its status in North Korea although generalized reports into the state of the environment and satellite based studies on deforestation in and around areas such as Changbaishan / Baekdu-san Biosphere Reserves indicate that some decline is likely. In South Korea and Japan the small subpopulations are thought to be stable. Despite the continuing exploitation, this species' large distribution and (still) large overall population size means that it does not yet meet the requirements for any of the threatened categories or those for Near Threatened. This situation may change within the next decade should current trends continue.

In the Russian Far East this pine grows from 200 m to 600 m a.s.l., 500 m to 1,300 m a.s.l. in China, and in Japan it occurs to an altitude of 2,500 m. Pinus koraiensis grows in dry places on podzols among deciduous broad-leaved trees like oaks, poplars and birches, but on the Russian coast of the Sea of Japan it is codominant with Abies holophylla, forming groves of conifers in a more varied deciduous broad-leaved forest. In Japan it also occurs together with other pines. In Korea and NE China ('Manchuria') this pine has been heavily exploited, resulting in the disappearance of many magnificent pine forests.

Legal and illegal logging is reducing its area of occupancy. In Russia, it is estimated that its abundance has been reduced by up to 50% in the past two decades. In northeastern China and North Korea over-exploitation for its edible seed (a valuable source of local incomes) has led to some forest degradation and a decline in forest health. In northeastern China and South Korea natural forests and plantations have also been impacted by white pine blister rust.

Korean pine is a highly important timber tree; in large parts of its range it has been over-exploited, but it is now used widely in afforestation schemes especially in NE China. Its timber is of good quality, light and soft, straight grained and easy to work with in milling and carpentry. It is fairly decay resistant and therefore finds uses like telephone poles, railway sleepers, wooden bridges, and boat building. In construction it provides building timbers as well as flooring, plywood and veneers. It can be chipped for particleboard or flakeboard manufacture, or pulped for the paper industry. More specialized uses are furniture, sports equipment and musical instruments. Resin is extracted from wood pulp and used to produce turpentine and other products. The seeds are rich in vegetative oil with a high nutritive value, and this is used in the food processing industry; seeds can also be consumed whole and most of the imported pine kernels in Europe and the USA are now sourced from this species. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental tree in China, Korea and Japan, but less common in Europe and the US, where until recently only a limited number of cultivars was known, but now on the increase.

This species occurs in several protected areas within its wide range, but also outside such reserves. It is now listed on Appendix III of CITES in an attempt to control illegal logging. In November 2010 the Russian Government announced a ban on the logging of Pinus koraiensis in its territories in order to assist the conservation of the Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) of which the pine forests are its key habitat.



  • 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

This field is required.