Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Pinus Banksiana

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch
Pinus banksiana bark (18,02,2012, Kew, London)

Pinus banksiana bark (18,02,2012, Kew, London)

Position: Full sun

Flowering period: Spring to early summer

Soil: Moist, well drained, acidic to neutral

Eventual Height: 9 – 22m

Eventual Spread: 5m

Hardiness: 2a – 9a

Family: Pinaceae

Pinus banksiana is an evergreen, small/ medium sized, upright, tree with a variable growth habit. Its light green waxy leaves are needle like, in groups of two, twisted and up to 4cm long. The dead lower branches of this tree self prune giving mature trees a clear trunk. The trunk does not usually grow straight and may achieve a diameter of 60cm. Its juvenile bark is dark, reddish dark and scaly. This becomes grayer with age and develops scaly ridges. The flowers of the tree are monoecious, both male and female. The fruit is a yellowish brown cone with a curved tip, these are up to 5cm long and may stay on the tree for several years.

Pinus banksiana (18,02,2012, Kew, London)

Pinus banksiana (18,02,2012, Kew, London)

Pinus banksiana, commonly known as Jack Pine, Scrub Pine, Banksian Pine or Hudson Bay Pine, is native to central Canada to the Great Lakes and North East USA. It is the most widely distributed Pine species in Canada.

The etymological root of the binomial name Pinus is derived from the Ancient classical name for a ‘Pine Tree’. Banksiana is named after Sir Joseph Banks (1743 – 1820) an English botanist and President of the Royal Society. 

The landscape architect may find Pinus banksiana useful as an upright evergreen specimen tree. This tree is drought tolerant once established. This tree will grow on very dry sandy or gravely soils.

Ecologically, P. banksiana attracts small mammals and birds for its seeds. In Canada the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler is dependent on large stands of this tree.

Pinus banksiana detail (18,02,2012, Kew, London)

Pinus banksiana detail (18,02,2012, Kew, London)

P. banksiana prefers moist, well-drained, sand soils. It prefers an acidic or neutral pH of soil, although it will tolerate alkali if its normal mycorrhizal fungi associates are present.

P. banksiana requires little maintenance.

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