Tree Profile Corsican Pine Pinus Nigra

Scientifically known as Pinus-nigra, the European black-pine occurs right across the Mediterranean including parts of Asia and the Maghreb Mountains of North Africa too. 

Most popular in the Turkish woodlands, this tree – Corsican Pine – is also found in parts of Italy; regions of Sicily and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. A large, coniferous, evergreen growing up to 55 metres tall, the Corsican Pine has a wonderful yellowy-brown coloured, flaky bark that peels off with age.    

The timber of the Corsican Pine can be used for many things: general construction, fuel and paper manufacture are but a few. The Pinus-nigra has proved to be a valuable resource to the British economy for many years; its resistance to the spray from road de-icing salt during the winter has meant this species of pine tree is ideal for town planning and urban environmental schemes as well.    

Being relatively drought tolerant, many pine trees have been planted in the busy streets of Britain’s towns and cities, though more often than not the Corsican Pine is seen in gardens or parks and can quite often be spotted as a windbreak at the sea-side.   

The leaves (or pine-needles) are thinner and more flexible on the Europe trees than in North Africa, thus, the oval pine-cones appear in May. Up to 100 mm long with rounded scales, these cones ripen and change colour slowly from green to gray before finally becoming yellow in late summer approximately 18 months after pollination.            

Moderately fast growing at around 50ish cm per year, Pinus-nigra has been known to live up to 500 years or more but the species does require full sunlight, thus this strong piece of horticulture is snow and ice resistant too!   

Corsican pines are a light-demanding species growing best in areas of low summer rainfall on freely-draining, sandy-soils and can really take the heat – the tree is most comfortable at home in the Mediterranean!

Seeds will usually ripen in December and are sown the following Spring when the ground is much warmer; clearly the best seed sources are from the Island of Corsica herself, hence the Roman name of this amazing tree.       

Sadly, the Forestry Commission in the UK had to suspend the planting of Corsican Pines in 2007 because of the dreaded “red band needle blight,” meaning quarantine controls had to be enforced requiring infected trees to be destroyed. The fungus causing this deadly disease, seriously reduces growth; consequently the UK’s timber yield was beginning to be affected; however, after five years the suspension was lifted and tree planting is thankfully back to normal levels.  

Don’t the pine trees just look wonderful here in the Thetford Forest of East Anglia?