Northwest Conifers


Gray Pine – Pinus sabiniana Speaker


Gray Pine west of Hillsboro


USGS Distribution Map

Tree Oregon locations from oregonflora.org

This rare pine is a medium-sized tree that usually grows to a height of less than 80 feet (25 meters). It can have a single straight trunk like most other pines, but branches into several forks. It is easily recognizable by the large cones that remain on the tree.

Needles: Pale gray-green, growing in bundles of three. They are 6-12 inches long with white stomatal bands on all sides.

Cones: The large cones are heavy and have thick, woody scales. The cones remain on the tree for up to 7 years after they mature. You can find cones on the ground for many years after they fall. The edible seeds are the largest of the pines, up to one inch long.

Bark: The bark is dark brown and breaks into irregular furrows on large trees.

Where it grows: Gray pine is rare in Oregon, but it grows in several locations, mostly in Jackson County, northwest of Medford.  It commonly grows around the edges of the Central Valley of California.

Names: Gray pine has long been called digger pine, after a pejorative name for the Paiute Indians, who collected and ate the seeds. This offensive name is no longer commonly used in literature describing the tree. The scientific name, sabiniana, honors Joseph Sabine, secretary of the  Horticultural Society of London. Other common names: Foothills pine, Sabine pine, grayleaf pine.




© 2016 Ken Denniston