Pine – Pinus sylvestris (Pinaceae)

Gaelic: giuthas

Scots Pine. Photo by Alan Elliott

Scots Pine

The Scots Pine is one of the most wide spread pine species, with a range extending from north China to western Scotland. Some experts have suggested several subspecies and varieties, including Pinus sylvestris subspecies scotia, which is applied to native Scottish populations. It has a distinctive form, with a long straight trunk reaching up to 35m, with a mass of foliage at top; this is rounded in trees which are still growing and flatter in those which have stopped upwards growth. The bark on the upper trunk and branches is orange and flaky.

Scots Pine Cones. Photo by Robyn Drinkwater

Pine Cones

The wood is important for forestry, with plantations in Scotland destined for telegraph poles, fencing and pallet boards. A century ago Scots Pine also provided the majority of pit props for the mining industry.

Scots Pine once compromised much of the great Pinewood of Caledon, with only remnants of this now remaining, after it was destroyed by over-cutting for timber, over-grazing and deliberate clearance. Some particularly evocative stands still remain at Rothiemurcus, near Aviemore, at Beinn Eighe, Glen Strathfarrar and Glen Affric in Wester Ross, and at Blackwood of Rannoch in Perthshire.