Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Sally and Andy Wasowski, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, www.wildflower.org.

Pinyon pine

Scientific name
Pinus edulis
Also Known As
Colorado pinyon, Two-leaf pinyon
Plant Family
Plant Group
Pinyon pines are short branched trees or shrubs with needles in bundles of two, distinguishing it from other pinions in the southwestern US.
Identification Hints

Pinyon pines are short branched trees or shrubs. A distinct feature of Pinyon pine is that it has two needles per bundle. It is usually a short branched tree and can be a shrub. Its cones do not have spines. Other pinions, which are found in the southwestern US, usually have different numbers of needles in each bundle (fascicle).

Did You Know?

Pinyon pine only needs about 12 to 18 inches of rainfall per year making it one of the most drought resistant species of pine. The edible seeds, known as pinyon nuts, are highly prized for their delicate flavor. The seeds are harvested in the wild and sold commercially. Eaten raw, roasted, and in candies, they were once a staple food of southwestern Native people. Every autumn, local residents, especially Navajo Indians and Spanish-Americans, harvest quantities for the local and gourmet markets. Small pinyons are popular as Christmas trees.

Leaves
Phacelia species are grown for honey-production in some countries. They are also used as ornamentals. The stems of Silverleaf phacelia are hairy. The flowers often cluster at the top of the stem in such a way as to resemble a curled scorpion's tail.
Pollen Cones
Pinyon pines have cones that are found in clusters at the end of the branches. The pollen cones are found in clusters of 20 to 40 and are dark red to purplish-red.
Seed Cones
Emerging seed cones are purplish and solitary. Mature seed cones are thick scaled and are light brown to tan in color. The cones usually contain about 8 or 10 small seeds. The seeds are light brown and wingless.
Bark
The bark is shallowly and irregularly furrowed. It is gray to reddish-brown. The trunk is often twisted and crooked. Twigs are smooth but become rough and scaly branches as they mature.
Habitat
Pinyon pine is found in intermountain region of Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico east to Oklahoma and Texas. It does well on dry, rocky soils and is often found mixed in with juniper on rocky mesas, plateaus, and dry, mountain slopes.
Bloom Time
Pollen is present in late spring and early summer. It disperses for about 2 weeks. First year cone development stops around the last week of August. Cones reach their full size in July and mature by September of their second year. In late September and October cones begin to open and seeds are dispersed.
States
AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT, WY