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Pinus wallichiana

Pinus wallichiana
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Scientific name: Pinus wallichiana   A.B.Jackson 1938

Synonyms: Leucopitys excelsa Nieuwl., Pinus chylla Lodd., Pinus dicksonii Carrière, Pinus excelsa Wall. ex D.Don, Pinus griffithii McClell., Pinus nepalensis Chambray

Common names: Himalayan white pine, Bhutan pine, Blue pine, Himalayan pine, Kail (Hindi, Kashmiri), Tongshi (Bhutanese), Qiao Song (Chinese)



Tree to 50(-70) m tall, with trunk to 1(-1.5) m in diameter. Bark dark grayish brown, becoming flaky and finally furrowed between scaly, interrupted, narrow ridges. Crown dense, broadly conical, deeper or shallower depending on the density of the stands, with numerous upswept branches becoming horizontal with age and well clothed with foliage. Twigs yellowish green when fresh, hairless and slightly waxy, aging reddish brown and losing the wax. Buds 6-8 mm long, slightly resinous. Needles in bundles of five, each needle (6-)12-18(-23) cm long, flexible and gently drooping, lasting 3-4 years, bright green to dark green on the outer face, bluish green with a little wax on the inner faces. Individual needles with lines of stomates usually restricted to the inner faces, an undivided midvein, two resin canals touching the epidermis of the outer face, and often a third resin canal inside the leaf tissue near where the two inner faces come together. Sheath 1.4-2 cm long, soon shed. Pollen cones 10-20 mm long, yellowish brown. Seed cones (10-)20-30 cm long, taperingly cylindrical, noticeably curved, with 60-80 seed scales or more, bluish green before maturity, ripening light brown, opening widely to release the seeds, on a slender stalk (2-)3-4(-6) cm long. Seed scales angularly egg-shaped, thin, the exposed tip a little thicker, straight, slightly cupped, with a narrow, diamond-shaped umbo at the tip. Seed body (3-)6-8(-10) mm long, the firmly attached wing (10-)15-25(-30) mm long. The species name honors Nathaniel Wallich (1786-1854), superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Gardens, who first gave the species a scientific name, but this was identical to a previously published name of another species (so it was a later homonym), which precludes its use for the Himalayan white pine.

Himalaya, from eastern Afghanistan to southeastern Xizang (Tibet) and northwestern Yunnan (China). Often forming pure forests in broad dry valleys or mixed with other conifers and hardwoods in moister montane and subalpine forests; (1,600-)2,000-3,000(-3,900) m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern

Widespread and common, not threatened and hence listed as Least Concern. Pinus wallichiana grows in the Himalayas in the valleys and foothills, to a maximum altitude of 2,700 m, but in Bhutan it reaches 3,400 m a.s.l. Sometimes it forms pure stands or forests, in other places it appears as an important forest component mixed with broad-leaved trees, e.g. species of the genera Quercus, Acer and Ilex. In the western Himalayas, where conditions are drier, Pinus wallichiana forms mixed forests with Cedrus deodara. Other conifers with which it may be associated are Pinus roxburghii, Abies spectabilis, or Abies densa and Tsuga dumosa in the wetter eastern part of its range. Potentially, over-exploitation could negatively impact the population, but the species is too common and wide-spread for this to have serious consequences other than locally. Himalayan white pine or Bhutan pine is an important timber tree in many parts of the Himalaya. It is of similar timber properties and quality to Pinus strobus and Pinus monticola in North America, with tall, straight trees producing straight grained wood of good strength. It is used for construction, carpentry and joinery, wall panelling, veneers, furniture, fences and gates, crates and boxes, and railway sleepers after treatment with preservatives. In India (Himachal Pradesh) resin tapping is an important use to obtain naval stores. A sweet liquid known as honey dew is secreted by aphids from the leaves and collected by local people of the mountain forests for consumption. Bhutan pine was introduced to England in 1823 and, unlike several other species of Pinus subsection Strobi, it turned out to be relatively immune to infections with blister rust (Cronartium ribicola; Basidiomycota) as well as to atmospheric pollution. In forestry it is also used in plantations and several hybrids with related species have been established with timber production in mind (e.g. the cross between Pinus strobus and Pinus wallichiana = Pinus x schwerinii Fitschen). Bhutan pine is a widely used amenity tree and a number of cultivars have been selected and are in the trade. This species occurs in several protected areas.



  • 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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