Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Crazy Plants: Coulter pine

The Coulter pine (Pinus coulteri) is also known as the bigcone pine and pitch pine
A "widow maker"
The Coulter pine is infamous for having the heaviest pine cones in the world. They're so heavy, up to ten pounds, that it's extremely dangerous to be hit in the head by one. Because of this, the cones have been appropriately nicknamed "widow makers." Apparently, loggers were the source of the name as several have died after being hit in the head by these massive pine cones. The needles on this pine are actually frequently shorter than its cones, with the needles being about nine inches and the cones up to about fourteen inches in length. The tree itself is large, with the tallest ever recorded coming in at one hundred sixteen feet.

The distribution of these trees is restricted to California and parts of the Baja Peninsula. It favors drier areas such as the chaparral. The tree is not a favorite for use as wood, as it's weak and brittle.

Sources are Stanford University, United States Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service, The Gymnosperm Database, the Pine Cone Festival. Images are from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licenses: one, two.

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