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Metla » Metinfo » Scots pine » What is Scots pine?

Scots pine – Excellence and image

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Research based information on Scots pine properties and uses



Photos Metla/Erkki Oksanen, Mika Grekin 

What is Scots pine?

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) is a widely spread softwood tree species. It is the world's second most widespread conifer, ranging, despite the common name, from Spain and Scotland to North-West China and Siberia (map). In Northern Eurasia, the species grows from the sea level up to 1 000m, whereas in the southerly regions it grows only above 500m in the mountainous areas.

Scots pine is an ever-green, light-demanding pioneering species growing naturally in moderately dry and harsh habitats. In favourable conditions, trees grow up to 25–40m tall and 50–120cm at breast height, but significantly smaller both in the north and elevated sites. The tree trunk is slim, slender and straight and branchless in the lower parts. The crown is variable with a variety of shapes, and the branches grow in whorls.

Over one hundred subspecies, varieties, and forms of Scots pine have been described. Tree and trunk appearance vary by origin and growth conditions. In addition, the properties of Scots pine wood highly depend on the geographical origin and growth conditions, such as site fertility, height above the sea level, and temperature and rainfall during the annual growth period.

Being a light-favouring species and thriving also in poorer sites, Scots pine generally forms dense-ringed, strong and homogeneous wood material. Scots pine wood is moderately soft but tough and straight grained. Wood texture is moderately coarse and the colour varies from pale brown to fairly saturated reddish brown. Growth rings are distinct, and an abrupt transition from earlywood to latewood section is typical.

Updated: 06.04.2010 /MGre  |  Photo: Erkki Oksanen, Metla, unless otherwise stated  |  Copyright Metla  |  Feedback