Forests, woodlands, and savannas
Southwestern United States
Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Pinyon pines are shorter evergreen trees that usually grow between 10 and 20 feet tall. They have needles that are about 1 to 2 inches in length and generally clumped in groups of two. Pinyon pine branches tend to sprawl, giving the trees a shape similar to that of a bush. These trees are most often found living in woodlands mixed with junipers. In fact, pinyon-juniper woodlands are one of the most widespread semi-arid vegetation types in North America and a quintessential part of the American Southwest.
Pinyon pines are a main food source for you and your desert fauna friends! These trees produce “pine nuts” which are consumed by bears, squirrels, chipmunks, quail, and people, too! Since this tree tends to grow in desert areas where food can be scarce, it is vital to those who rely on its resource. This pine’s scientific name says it all - “edulis” is latin for “edible”.
Indigenous populations use and have used pinyon pines as food sources by eating their nuts raw, roasting them, or grounding them into flour. Needles are also used to make tea.
Slow and steady wins the race! While pinyon pines have been known to live to 600 years old, they grow very slowly. Even a 60 year old tree may only reach 6 feet in height!
In the Paiute language, pinyon pines are called Tubape.
University of California Cooperative Extension - Master Gardener Newspaper, Meet the Pinyon Pine Tree, 2016, https://ucanr.edu/datastoreFiles/268-718.pdf
Gardening Know How, Pinyon Pine Tree Care: Facts About Pinyon Pines, 2020, https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/pine/pinyon-pine-tree-care.htm
IUCN Red List, Pinyon Pine, 2013, https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/42360/2975133
Pyramid Lake, The Paiute Language, 2021, http://www.numuinc.com/home/the-tribe/the-paiute-language/
Image: Matt Lavin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/plant_diversity/32341126521, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/, cropped from original.
Image: Matt Lavin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/plant_diversity/32084211540, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/, cropped from original.
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