Arboretum Images 4

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Edwin & Frances Hunter Arboretum Images 4: Conifers #2

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Pine Family (Pinaceae)

Left: Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) at the rocky summit of the Palomar College Arboretum, with California State University San Marcos in the distance. This pine is native to the southeastern United States, and is not commonly planted on the Pacific coast. Right: Montezuma bald cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), a deciduous conifer native to Mexico. To the far right is a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) native to the coast of central and northern California. The silvery-blue conifer in foreground is a Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens).

Pinus Species In California

Twenty (18 depending on latest reference) of the more than 100 species of Pinus on earth. All of these pines are native to the state of California. 1. Monterey Pine (P. radiata), 2. Bishop Pine (P. muricata), 3. Santa Cruz Island Pine (P. remorata), 4. Whitebark Pine (P. albicaulis), 5. Limber Pine (P. flexilis), 6. Beach Pine (P. contorta), 7. Lodgepole Pine (P. murrayana), 8. Western White Pine (P. monticola), 9. Knobcone Pine (P. attenuata), 10. Bristlecone Pine (P. longaeva), 11. Foxtail Pine (P. balfouriana), 12. Four-Leaf Pinyon (P. quadrifolia), 13. Two-Leaf Pinyon (P. edulis), 14. One-Leaf Pinyon (P. monophylla), 15. Ponderosa Pine (P. ponderosa), 16. Coulter Pine (P. coulteri), 17. Digger Pine (P. sabiniana), 18. Torrey Pine (P. torreyana), 19. Jeffrey Pine (P. jeffreyi), 20. Sugar Pine (P. lambertiana). Note: This image is scanned from a Kodachrome 35mm color transparency taken in 1974. Taxonomic changes have been made on some of these species.

Note: In the Jepson Flora of California 2nd Edition (2012), Pinus remorata is now considered a synonym of P. muricata. Another species (left image) called the Washoe pine (P. washoensis), with cones similar to a miniature Jeffrey pine, is now recognized as a variety of the ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa). In addition, the beach and lodgepole pines are now recognized as subspecies of P. contorta, rather than separate species. This gives a grand total of 18 species, 7 subspecies and 3 varieties.
According to R.M. Lanner (Conifers of California, 1999), there may be other significant changes in the pines of California. Allozyme studies in two-leaf pinyons (Pinus edulis) of the New York Mountains indicate that these populations are biochemically (and genetically) consistent with nearby one-leaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla), and that P. edulis may not occur in California. The unusual New York Mountains population appears to be a 2-needle variant of P. monophylla. The four-leaf or Parry pinyon of San Diego County (P. quadrifolia) may be a hybrid between P. monophylla and Sierra Juárez pinyon (P. juarezensis) of northern Baja California. According to Lanner, the latter species has five needles per fascicle and occurs in San Diego County. The hybrid hypothesis might explain the perplexing variation in needle number for P. quadrifolia, with clusters of three, four and five.

Pinus Species In The US Excluding California

1. Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris), 2. Eastern White Pine (P. strobus), 3. Chihuahua Pine (P. leiophylla), 4. Arizona Longleaf Pine (P. latifolia), 5. Loblolly Pine (P. taeda), 6. Slash Pine (P. elliottii), 7. Mexican Pinyon (P. cembroides), 8. Table Mt. Pine (P. pungens), 9. Pond Pine (P. serotina), 10. Jack Pine (P. banksiana), 11. Mexican White Pine (P. reflexa). Note: This image is scanned from a Kodachrome 35mm color transparency taken in 1974. Taxonomic changes have been made on some of these species.

Pinus Species Outside Of The United States

1. Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis), 2. Himalayan Pine (P. griffithii), 3. Austrian Black Pine (P. nigra), 4. Italian Stone Pine (P. pinea), 5. Swiss Mt. Pine (P. mugo), 6. Scotch Pine (P. sylvestris), 7. Aleppo Pine (P. halepensis), 8. Smooth-Bark Mexican Pine (P. pseudostrobus), 9. Douglas Pine (Mexico: P. douglasiana), 10. Gregg's Pine (Mexico: P. greggii), 11. Japanese Black Pine (P. thunbergii), 12. Japanese Red Pine (P. densiflora var. pendula), 13. Cedros Island Pine (P. muricata var. cedrosensis). Note: This image is scanned from a Kodachrome 35mm color transparency taken in 1974. Taxonomic changes have been made on some of these species.

Indian Longleaf Pine (Pinus roxburghii), also called chir pine: This beautiful pine is native to Himalayas. I have previously misidentified it as Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis). Both species grow in the Palomar Arboretum. Its native range extends from Tibet and Afganistan, through Pakistan and across norther India to Nepal and Bhutan. Some nice specimens grow at Walnut Grove Park, Twin Oaks Valley.

The Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica var. glauca) native to the Atlas Mountains of
 northwest Africa. The ovulate (seed) cone is erect on the branch like a fir (Abies).

Taxodium Family (Taxodiaceae)

  More Information & Images About The Taxodium Family  

The traditional taxodium family (Taxodiaceae) contains ten genera and 16 species of cone-bearing trees native to North America, Asia and Tasmania. Because of their scale-like leaves, seed cones and other characteristics, some botanists have consolidated the Taxodiaceae with the cypress family (Cupressaceae). In fact, the seed cones of bald cypress (Taxodium) certainly resemble those of the true cypress (Cupressus). Leaves of the Cupressaceae are opposite in four ranks or whorled, while those of the Taxodiaceae are mostly alternate; however, vegetative characteristics are not reliable for differentiation between families. Modern taxonomists use DNA sequencing and computers to generate phylogenetic "trees" called cladograms. The protein-coding RBCL chloroplast gene is often used at the family level to show relationships between genera and species within a family. The results of these studies indicate that a number of genera formerly assigned to the Taxodiaceae now belong in the Cupressaceae. The principle exception is the genus Sciadopitys (Japanase umbella pine), which was found to be completely unlike the Cupressaceae, and is now placed in the monotypic family Sciadopityaceae. Much to the chagrin of some botanists, sweeping changes are being proposed in the field of conifer taxonomy in order to provide a consistent method of plant classification at the family level. Some drastic changes in the classification of traditional flowering plant families have also been proposed, including the placement of all duckweeds in the arum family (Araceae). If accepted by the botanical community, the incorporation of these changes into botany textbooks, floras, checklists and herbarium collections will be a formidable task.

Sequencing Chloroplast DNA Using PCR Tecnique

Many economically important species belong to the taxodium family, including cultivated ornamentals and timber trees. They are dominant trees in several ecosystems, including temperate forests and swamps. Most of the species are evergreen, but some are deciduous and drop their leaves during the fall months. In addition, the most massive and tallest trees in the world belong to this remarkable plant family. Abundant fossil evidence of these magnificent trees dating back more than 100 million years has been found in north America. Some of today's species look remarkable similar to fossilized trees that lived when dinosaurs walked on the earth.

A. Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), the world's most massive tree. B. Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), the world's tallest tree, rivaled only by the Australian Eucalyptus regnans. C. Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), a forest tree of China that once flourished in North America. In Montana, petrified cones from the Eocene Epoch (40-50 million years ago) are remarkably similar to our present-day dawn redwood (red arrow).

Three North American species of Taxodium, the type genus for Taxodiaceae: A. Pond cypress (T. ascendens), also known as T. distichum var. nutans. This species has many slender branchlets with appressed awl-shaped leaves that branch (ascend) from larger branchlets (red arrow). It apparently does not cross pollinate with the closely related T. distichum. B. Bald or Swamp Cypress (T. distichum). This species is native to swamplands of the southeastern United States along with T. ascendens. C. Montezuma bald cypress (T. mucronatum), a Mexican species native from Sonora and Coahuila south to Guatemala. It is planted in the United States and grows well in areas that are not inundated by water.

Left: Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica), a tall Asian conifer with foliage similar to the California giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Right: Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata), a tall timber tree in China. Like the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), this species commonly stump sprouts from the base of the tree.


  1. Armstrong, W.P. 1978. "Southern California's Vanishing Cypresses." Fremontia 6 (2): 24-29.

  2. Armstrong, W.P. 1977. "The Close-Cone Pines and Cypresses" (Chapter 9, pp. 295-358). In: Terrestrial Vegetation of California, John Wiley & Sons.

  3. Armstrong, W.P. 1966. Ecological and Taxonomic Relationships of Cupressus in Southern California. MA Thesis, Biological Science Department. California State College at Los Angeles.

  4. Farjon, A. et al. 2002. "A New Genus and Species in the Cupressaceae (Coniferales) from Northern Vietnam, Xanthocyparis vietnamensis." Novon 12: 179-189.

  5. Griffin, J.R. and W.B. Critchfield. 1972. The Distribution of Forest Trees in California. USDA Forest Service Research Paper PSW 82. Berkeley, California.

  6. Hickman, J.C. (Editor). 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley.

  7. Lanner, R.M. 1999. Conifers of California. Cachuma Press, Los Olivos, California.

  8. Little, D.P. et al. 2004. "The Circumscription and Phylogenetic Relationships of Callitropsis and the Newly Described Genus Xanthocyparis (Cupressaceae)." American Journal of Botany 91: 1872-1881.

  9. Little, D.P. 2006. "Evolution and Circumscription of the True Cypresses (Cupressaceae: Cupressus)." Systematic Botany 31: 461-480.

  10. Little, E.L., Jr. 1953. Check List of Native and Naturalized Trees of the United States. USDA Forest Service Agriculture Handbook No. 41, Washington, D.C.

  11. Wolf, C.B. 1948. "Taxonomic and Distributional Studies of the New World Cypresses." El Aliso 1: 1-250.