Pine trees have been placed in the genus Pinus and family Pinaceae. Pines together form a subfamily generally known as Pinoideae. About 115 species are usually known but different experts believe that there are 105 and 125 varieties known.
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The English pine has been taken from a Latin word Pinus. They are native to Northern Hemisphere. The world’s tallest pine forest measures 81. 79 m. pines have been widely introduced in Southern Hemisphere including parts of Southern Hemisphere, including Chile, Brazil, South Africa, Quotes, Argentina and New Zealand. During these regions they are basically used for wood but some species have become invasive in these areas also.
Pines are classic, resinous trees growing to a duration of 3-80 m tall but some varieties also become 15-45 m tall. The smallest species include Siberian Little Pine and Potosi Pinyon, as well as the tallest are Sugar Pine. The particular oldest lived species is Great Pot Bristlecone Pine which is 4, eight hundred years old and is one of the oldest living organisms known. The bark of the trees is usually thick and scaly while some have thin and flaking barks also. The branches are usually produced in pseudo-whorls but actually they are spirally arranged and arise from a same point. Majority of the pines are uninodal which means they generate only a single whorl every year.
Different types of leaves are found. Seed leaves are present over the seeds in the whorls associated with 4-24. Juvenile leaves arise soon after the seed leaves and are 2-6 cm long green in color and are spirally arranged. They are produced for about 6 months -5 years or more. Scale leaves as the name suggests are brown, scaly and non-photosynthetic arranged spirally. Finally needles occur which are present in clusters of 1-6. They are produced from the bud associated with scale leaf in the axil. They persist for 1 . 5-40 yrs. If shoot is damaged they produced a new bud so that a new plant may be borne.
They are monoecious bearing separate male and female cones on the same tree but some varieties are sub-dioecious also bearing males and female cones on various trees. The male cones are 1-5 cm, typically small and therefore are present only for short duration. They may be shed immediately after shedding the pollen. The female cones take 1 . 5-3 years to attain maturity after pollination, actually fertilization is delayed for one year. They are 3-60 cm long and are surrounded by scales bearing two fertile seeds. The external scales are small with clean and sterile seeds. The seeds are anemophilous but may be dispersed by hens also. They grow well in acidic soils but some prefer sandy or calcareous soils also. They need well drained soil for appropriate growth. Seeds are eaten simply by birds, squirrels, goats and some lepidopteran caterpillars.
They are highly valued trees for their timber and wood pulp. In temperate and tropical locations they are fast growing softwoods. They are cultivated commercially and are more durable compared to spruce. Pine wood is widely used in high-value carpentry items like furniture, window frames, paneling, floors plus roofing, and the resin of several species is an important source of turpentine. Also, they are grown in gardens and leisure areas for ornamental purposes. They are also cultivated and harvested as Christmas shrub. They are at risk of being infected with a nematode disease known as wilt disease. Some species produce large seed products which are cooked or baked plus consumed as food. The soft, inner bark is edible and it is a rich source of vitamin A and C.