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The stone pine is easily one of the most well-known species of pine tree.
The seeds of the stone pine, known as pine nuts, have been cultivated for food for over 6000 years.
Stone pines are also grown as ornamentals in gardens and along streets, most commonly in the Mediterranean, alongside anywhere with a warm, dry climate.
Kew Gardens had a stone pine that was planted in 1846, when it was already 100 years old. When it fell in 2022, it was replaced by a sapling grown from one of its seeds.
The stone pine is an evergreen tree that can reach 25m in height, usually with a wide crown of leaves. The bark is red to brown to grey, and features long vertical cracks. The leaves, better known as needles, grow in clusters of two, and are green in colour. Individual needles measure between 10 and 18cm long and about 1.5 mm thick, with a small 1cm long sheath at the base.
The oval or spherical cones grow on short stems and measure around 10cm long and 8cm across. They are green in colour, ripening over three years to a shiny chestnut-brown when pollinated. The seeds, known as pine nuts, are found within the cones, in groups of two, and are around 20mm long by 10mm wide, with a thick coating of black powder.
The stone pine is a popular ornamental plant, especially in the Mediterranean.
The stone pine is considered a symbol of Rome, and was planted alongside Roman roads in classical times.
Food and drink
Pine nuts are harvested from stone pine cones and are eaten raw, in pesto, on cakes and cookies, and in fatayer.
Pine nuts are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, phosphorous, vitamin E and vitamin K.
Materials and fuels
Stone pine trees are tapped for their resin, which is used in varnishes, glues and inks.
Tannins can be extracted from the bark of stone pines and are used in dyeing.
Stone pine wood is occasionally used in crafting furniture, although the wood is of lower quality.
Did you know?
Stone pines can be cultivated as bonsai trees.
The stone pine gets its name from the hard shell that surrounds the pine nut when it is still in the cone.
Where in the world?
Dry and sunny areas with high temperatures but can tolerate frost. Grows well on a range of different soils.