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Scotch Pine, Pinus sylvestris



Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech (first published February 2012, last reviewed March 2024)


Foliage: About 3 inches long; 2 needles per fascicle; evergreen
Height: About 50 feet
Spread: About 20 to 30 feet
Shape: Conical in youth; irregular at maturity

Main Features

Scotch pine is a medium tree. Like most pines, the first 20 or so years of its life it has a conical shape and with maturity it loses its lower limbs and has an irregular flat topped or oval shape. Scotch pine has a relatively showy orange colored bark (with the exception of the lower trunk). It is also relatively drought tolerant, thus it is suitable for landscape sites that tend to be dry. There are over 50 cultivars, and there is a great amount of variation (hardiness, form, needle length and color, and adaptability to climate and soil conditions) within the species. Scotch pine has a huge native range; it can be found from western Europe to western Asia, which explains the great amount of variation in the species.

Plant Needs

Zone: 3 to 7 (may languish in the higher temperature regions of zone 7)
Light: Full sun
Moisture: Average to somewhat dry Soil type: Average to less than ideal pH range: Acid


Scotch pine can certainly serve as a specimen plant (sufficient attributes that allow it to be featured as a focal point) due to its mature picturesque (gnarly) form and orange bark.


Scotch pine is relatively carefree. However, there are a few pest problems (Sphaeropsis, a fungal disease; nematodes; and pine wilt fungus) that can pose problematic Scotch pine health issues. One should check with the local Extension agent or garden center personnel to determine the prevalence of these pests in your area.

Additional Information

Scotch pine is a popular Christmas tree species.

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Publication Date

March 6, 2024

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