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Tree to 45 m, trunk erect, 0.2–0.45 m dbh. Bark smooth, reddish to greyish brown, in older trees thick, scaly, dark greyish brown, breaking into elongated plates divided by deep, longitudinal fissures. Crown dense, wide, rounded or domed. Branchlets glaucous, slender, smooth; vegetative buds not resinous. Leaves in fascicles of (four to) five (to six), persisting for two to three years, in lax, pendent tufts on upturned branches, light green to glaucous, straight, slender, triangular in cross-section, (18–)20–30(–35) × 0.08–0.13 cm, apex acute. Fascicle sheaths 1.5–3.5 cm long, lustrous reddish brown. Cataphylls 1–1.5 cm long, falling soon after fascicles. Male strobili purplish or pinkish yellow, ovoid-oblong to cylindrical, 2–3.5 × 0.5–0.7 cm. Female cones subterminal, solitary or rarely in whorls of three to four; peduncles stout, short, persisting with a few attached scales after dispersal. Cones 7–16 × 6–13 cm, purplish to pinkish brown, mature in winter at about 20 months old; mature cones ovoid-oblong, asymmetrical, often curved. Scales 140–190, opening to release the seeds, thick, woody, straight or slightly curved; apophysis nearly flat to prominently raised, brown; umbo dorsal, darker than apophysis, with or without a prickle. Seeds dark greyish brown; wings effective, 2–2.5 × 0.7–1 cm, yellowish brown, translucent. Farjon & Styles 1997, Farjon et al. 1997, Farjon 2005a. Distribution EL SALVADOR; GUATEMALA; HONDURAS; MEXICO: Chiapas, Durango, eastern Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, México, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Sinaloa, Tlaxcala, Veracruz. Habitat Montane or high-montane forest between 850 and 3250 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 9. Conservation status Lower Risk. Illustration Farjon & Styles 1997, Farjon 2005a; NT584, NT617. Cross-references B229, K233.
P. apulcensis Lindl.
P. oaxacana Mirov
The apophyses of var. apulcensis are elongated and prominently raised, at least in the lower part of the cone. The umbo is elongated and at an angle to the transverse keel. Farjon & Styles 1997, Farjon et al. 1997, Farjon 2005a. Distribution EL SALVADOR; GUATEMALA; MEXICO: Chiapas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, México, Oaxaca, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Veracruz. Habitat Often sympatric with the type variety, though absent from the driest areas. USDA Hardiness Zone 9. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Farjon & Styles 1997; NT580.
Pinus pseudostrobus is one of the most attractive pines, with its long, glossy green needles hanging elegantly from the shoots; in the right light conditions they shimmer beautifully. It is not a ‘new’ tree at all, having been introduced in 1839 according to Mitchell (1972), who gave the statistics of several notable specimens, including one at Pencarrow, Cornwall, planted in 1849, that was 20 m tall (68 cm dbh) in 1956 (albeit by then in a moribund state). Other trees over 20 m have been recorded in southern England by TROBI, though it seems that none of such size now remain. There are, however, plenty of younger ones coming on to replace the older generation, and these are doing well in many gardens in southern and western England, including Kew, the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Tregrehan, each of which has fine trees. The current champion is probably the magnificent individual growing near the big Quercus rysophylla in the Brentry House area of the Hillier Gardens, received in 1987 and measured at 15.7 m (70 cm dbh) in 2007. Trees at Kew come from James Russell’s collections (nos. 419 and 429) in Veracruz in 1983, specimens from which are 10 m and 10–12 m tall (respectively). The branches of P. pseudostrobus spread widely and the tree forms a broad, rounded crown, in its vigorous youth at least; it needs plenty of space to do itself justice.
Some specimens are identified as P. pseudostrobus var. apulcensis, or are grown under its synonym P. oaxacana. They seem to do as well as var. pseudostrobus, and are indistinguishable as sterile plants. A specimen labelled P. oaxacana is growing happily at Ness and was 7 m tall in 2006. It originates from a collection made in Puebla in 1995 by G. Pattison, P. Catt and M. Hickson (PCH MEX 366).
Pinus pseudo strobus is rare in continental Europe and has only a limited presence in North America, in California, but could certainly be grown in western France and the western United States. An ideal provenance would be from higher altitudes in the more northerly part of its range, but this may be an unattainable counsel of perfection and it would be worth planting any material of P. pseudostrobus obtainable.
Pinus estevezii (Martínez) J.P. Perry (syn. P. pseudostrobus var. estevezii Martínez), from northeastern Mexico (Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas), is recognised by Perry (1991) but not by Farjon & Styles (1997). It is distinct from P. pseudostrobus in its stouter branches and low, broad crown, to 15–20 m tall, and grows at low altitudes (800–1800 m) in a much drier climate than P. pseudostrobus. The foliage is spreading and less pendulous, the leaves 20–30 × 0.1 cm. The cones are stout, 9–14 cm long, and the scales have a swollen apophysis, with a small but prominent umbo spine. Although seed of this taxon has been collected on occasions in the past it has failed to become established, and is currently represented in cultivation only by very young seedlings (K. Rushforth, pers. comm. 2008).