Arolla Pine Firms cembra L.


The Arolla pine is a high mountain tree growing in the Alps and Carpathians near the tree line at elevations of 1500 to 2400 metres, in areas with a brief, hot summer. It grows to a height of about 25 metres or more but its knotty trunk and thick ovoid crown reaching almost to the ground are an impressive sight in the harsh alpine environment, where a forest is hard put to keep a foothold. The Arolla pine has thick, rust coloured, downy shoots and needles clustered densely on the twigs. The cones take two years to mature and when ripe in September they fall to the ground where they disintegrate. The sweet oily seeds are a favourite of birds and rodents. New individuals grow from the seeds they drop on their way, often far from the parent’tree. The Arolla pine has a slow rate of growth; not until after its sixtieth year does it begin to flower and bear fruit, but it attains an age of several hundred years. It is adapted to the harsh, mountain climate and stands up well to frost, windstorms and heavy snow. The wood is strong and light, and was formerly used to make furniture and carved objects. Because of its fairly infrequent occurrence, however, it is now a tree protected by law, and an attractive ornament of our high mountains. The related form Pinus cembra sibirica Rupr.’grows in Siberia.

Needles: 5—12 cm long, in clusters of five.

Cones: Ovoid, 5—8 cm long and 3.5—5 cm wide, purplish-brown, with terminal umbo.

Seed: About 1 cm long, wingless, slightly angular.

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