The Scots pine – or Pinus sylvestris – is Scotland's national tree. It is a native of the once extensive Caledonian pine forests and is the only timber-producing conifer native to Scotland.
It’s known as a pioneer species, due to its ability to regenerate and thrive in poor soils. You can find the Scots pine further afield too - it’s extensively planted in Europe and beyond.
Scots pine timber is known as ‘red deal’ and is strong and easy to work with. It may not be naturally durable but it takes preservatives well.
Along with yew, and a very few, arguably no other trees, it survived the last Ice Age in the British Isles, which is the standard for really native trees.
- Lifespan: 300 years
- Height: It matures up to 36 metres, losing its lower branches as it ages.
- Leaves: Its twisted blue-green needles are found in pairs and are around 4–7cm long.
- Seeds: It has brown egg-shaped cones, in clusters of two to four that point backwards along the stem, with a small sharp prickle on each scale. The Scots pine also has pointed hanging cones with woody scales.
- Bark: The upper bark is an orange-red, while the lower bark is deeply fissured.
- Insect species it supports: 172
- Native to: Northern Europe and Asia, Spain and Asia Minor
- Uses: In the past it was used for ships’ masts, as a source of turpentine, resin and tar, and for charcoal. Today Scots pine timber is used for building, pit-props, furniture, chipboard, boxes, fences, telegraph poles and paper pulp.