Pinus lambertiana

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"Sugar Pine" redirects here. For the community in Madera County, California, see Sugar Pine, California.
Pinus lambertiana
Sugar pine
File:Sugar Pine.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Pinus
Subgenus: Strobus
Species: P. lambertiana
Binomial name
Pinus lambertiana
File:Pinus lambertiana range map 1.png
Natural range of Pinus lambertiana

Pinus lambertiana (commonly known as the sugar pine or sugar cone pine) is the tallest and most massive pine tree, and has the longest cones of any conifer. The species name lambertiana was given by the British botanist David Douglas, who named the tree in honour of the English botanist, Aylmer Bourke Lambert. It is native to the mountains of the Pacific coast of North America, from Oregon through California to Baja California.



The sugar pine is the largest species of pine, commonly growing to 40–60 meters (130–200 ft) tall, exceptionally up to 82 m (269 ft) tall, with a trunk diameter of 1.5–2.5 m (4.9–8.2 ft), exceptionally 3.5 m (11 ft). Tallest recorded specimen is one standing at 83.45 m (273.79 ft) in Yosemite National Park, discovered in 2015. Second tallest ever recorded was "Yosemite Giant", an 82.05 m (269.2 ft) tall specimen in Yosemite National Park, which died from a bark beetle attack in 2007. Tallest known living specimens today grow in southern Oregon and Yosemite National Park; one in Umpqua National Forest is 77.7 m (255 ft), and another in Siskiyou National Forest is 77.2 m (253 ft). Yosemite National Park also has the third tallest sugar pine measured to 80.5 m (264 ft) as of June 2013. The tree was affected by the Rim Fire, but it survived.

Pinus lambertiana is a member of the white pine group, Pinus subgenus Strobus, and like all members of that group, the leaves ('needles') are in bundles (fascicles) of five, with a deciduous sheath. They are 6–11 cm (2.4–4.3 in)ch) long. Sugar pine is notable for having the longest cones of any conifer, mostly 25–50 cm (9.8–19.7 in) long, exceptionally up to 66 cm (26 in) long (although the cones of the Coulter pine are more massive). The seeds are 10–12 mm (0.39–0.47 in) long, with a 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) long wing that aids wind dispersal. The seeds of the sugar pine are also a type of pine nut and are edible.


The sugar pine occurs in the mountains of Oregon and California in the western United States, and Baja California in northwestern Mexico; specifically the Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, Coast Ranges, and Sierra San Pedro Martir.

White pine blister rust

The sugar pine has been severely affected by the white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola),[1] a fungus that was accidentally introduced from Europe in 1909. A high proportion of sugar pines has been killed by the blister rust, particularly in the northern part of the species' range that has experienced the rust for a longer period of time. The rust has also destroyed much of the western white pine and whitebark pine throughout their ranges.[2] The U.S. Forest Service has a program (see link below) for developing rust-resistant sugar pine and western white pine. Seedlings of these trees have been introduced into the wild. The Sugar Pine Foundation in the Lake Tahoe Basin has been successful in finding resistant sugar pine seed trees and has demonstrated that it is important for the public to assist the U.S. Forest Service in restoring this species. However, blister rust is much less common in California, and Sugar, Western White and Whitebark pines still survive in great numbers there.[3]


Naturalist John Muir considered sugar pine to be the "king of the conifers". The common name comes from the sweet resin, which Native Americans used as a sweetener.[4] John Muir found it preferable to maple sugar.[5] It is also known as the great sugar pine. The scientific name was assigned by David Douglas in honor of Aylmer Bourke Lambert.


In the Achomawi creation myth, Annikadel, the creator, makes one of the 'First People' by intentionally dropping a sugar pine seed in a place where it can grow. One of the descendants in this ancestry is Sugarpine-Cone man, who has a handsome son named Ahsoballache.[6]

After Ahsoballache marries the daughter of To'kis the Chipmunk-woman, his grandfather insists that the new couple have a child. To this end, the grandfather breaks open a scale from a sugar pine cone, and secretly instructs Ahsoballache to immerse the scale's contents in spring water, then hide them inside a covered basket. Ahsoballache performs the tasks that night; at the next dawn, he and his wife discover the infant Edechewe near their bed.[6]

The Washo language has a word for sugar pine, simt'á:gɨm, and also a word for "sugar pine sugar", nanómba.


Media related to Sugar pine at Wikimedia Commons

  1. Moore, Gerry; Kershner, Bruce; Craig Tufts; Daniel Mathews; Gil Nelson; Spellenberg, Richard; Thieret, John W.; Terry Purinton; Block, Andrew (2008). National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Trees of North America. New York: Sterling. p. 79. ISBN 1-4027-3875-7. 
  5. Saunders, Charles Francis (1976). Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada. Courier Dover Publications. p. 219. ISBN 0-486-23310-3. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Woiche, Istet (1992). Merriam, Clinton Hart, ed. Annikadel: The History of the Universe as Told by the Achumawi Indians of California. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0-8165-1283-6. OCLC 631716557. 

Further reading

External links