Species list


Pinus uncinata

Mountain pine

Mountain pine (Eng), pino negro, pino de ganchos (Spa), pi negre (Cat), mendi pinua (Baq), pinheiro-montanhés (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? This tree used to be known in Spain as the 'pino moro', the Moorish pine, but the name has fallen in disuse.


This tree can be up to 25 m tall. It is very solid and has very dark, blackish, scaly bark. Normally it has a pyramidal form with a dense canopy of very darkly coloured leaves and branches. Nevertheless, in extreme conditions, such as windy or hilly areas, places that experience blizzards, and also in young specimens, this tree can become very deformed according to the dominant wind direction. Due to the accumulated weight of snow and ice in its branches, it can also acquire a rather squat form. It branches practically from the base and the young twigs are chestnut brown. The dark green leaves are acicular, generally 3-8 cm long and arranged on the twigs in very densely clustered pairs, like on a scrubbing brush. The dark colour of the leaves and bark explains its common name in Spanish: 'pino negro', the black pine. The cones are 5-7 cm long. They are very characteristic and distinguish this pine from the others found on the peninsula, as they are clearly asymmetrical and their scales are hook-shaped, hence its Latin name uncinata. The seeds (pine nuts) have a membranous wing to facilitate their dispersion by wind.


This long-lived pine is adapted to the cold and the dry air of mountainous regions where it forms extensive pure or mixed forests with scattered firs or birches, in areas where other tree species cannot compete. It needs high precipitation throughout the year, including in the summer. It occurs on all soil types, on slopes and scree slopes, in cracks, and even on peat bogs. This species grows as high as the maximum altitudes at which trees can survive, in adverse meteorological conditions and where soil is very scarce. It is associated with high-mountain species like rhododendrons, creeping junipers, bilberries, huckleberries and shrubby rowans. We can find it at altitudes of 800 m to 2700 m.


It occurs naturally in the central and western Alps, and on the Iberian Peninsula it lives in the Pyrenees, from the Navarran valley of Roncal to Girona, as well as in some places in the mountains of the Sistema Ibérico, between altitudes of 1500 and 2500 m. In the Sierra Nevada, Sierra de los Filabres, and Sierra de Guadarrama ranges, and certain other places, there are cultivated plantations of this species.