Austrian Black Pine Recovery and Refinement

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Pinus nigra is a tree of the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome. The majority of the range is in Turkey. It is found in the higher elevations of the South Apennine mixed montane forests ecoregion in southern Italy and the Tyrrhenian-Adriatic sclerophyllous and mixed forests ecoregion in Sicily. There are remnant populations in the Mediterranean conifer and mixed forests ecoregion, and in the higher Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Algeria.

It is found at elevations ranging from sea level to 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), most commonly from 250–1,600 metres (820–5,250 ft). Several of the varieties have distinct English names.

It has naturalized in parts of the midwestern states of the U.S, normally south of the normal native ranges of native pines.


Pinus nigra is a large coniferous evergreen tree, growing to 20–55 metres (66–180 ft) high at maturity and spreading to 20 to 40 feet wide. The bark is grey to yellow-brown, and is widely split by flaking fissures into scaly plates, becoming increasingly fissured with age. The leaves (“needles”) are thinner and more flexible in western populations (see ‘Taxonomy’ section below).

The ovulate and pollen cones appear from May to June. The mature seed cones are 5–10 cm (rarely to 11 cm) long, with rounded scales; they ripen from green to pale grey-buff or yellow-buff in September to November, about 18 months after pollination. The seeds are dark grey, 6–8 mm long, with a yellow-buff wing 20–25 mm long; they are wind-dispersed when the cones open from December to April. maturity is reached at 15–40 years; large seed crops are produced at 2–5 year intervals.

Pinus nigra is moderately fast growing, at about 30–70 centimetres (12–28 in) per year. It usually has a rounded conic form, that becomes irregular with age. The tree can be long-lived, with some trees over 500 years old. It needs full sun to grow well, is intolerant of shade, and is resistant to snow and ice damage.

Description from Wikipedia

A new addition to my collection is an Austrian Black pine, single flush pine, over 50 years old and full of surprises. I acquired the tree as payment for work done on the owners collection. The tree was too big for her to work on anymore and too precious to her to put in a general sale. I have worked on mugho pines before and this particular pine is described as very similar per my teachers, with some differences of course.

Austrian Black Pine: Dec 2018 as received from original owner.




The first surprise was the amount of exposed root. The trunk site above a large hollow at the base making this an exposed root tree. I will figure out what to do about that in the re-potting process. I discovered this as I was removing moss and debris from around the trunk.



The trunk and root mass was covered with moss, old soil, weeds, and redwood duff. As it was removed, it revealed the cave under the trunk.
Roots from the core trunk. I tested to ensure these were still alive and functioning. In the re-potting process further examination will be needed.
Side view of root mass showing the exposed roots.
Trunk and bark detail.


Since the tree had not been cut back or worked on for many years, I needed to open up the canopy to allow light inside for healthy bud development. I reduced the strongest buds and the number of buds on any given branch. There were at times 5 or more buds on a single point and that had to be reduced to 2 or three at the most. Some of the branches had run too strong too long and needed to be removed.

Look closely in the center of the tree where the arrow is pointing and you can see the pin I am using to open up the canopy.










I have pinned down the apex of the tree to give is an open rounded look for now until later in the year when I can do a great deal of wiring.

Open canopy will now allow sun and air delivery to the inside of the tree.

Later this winter, I will up-pot the tree into a large bonsai pot. This will involve scoring the sides and bottom of the root mass and ensuring drainage. The tree will rest that way for the rest of the year.


The new view of the tree after initial work:

Austrian Black Pine after cleanup. January 2019


1 comments on “Austrian Black Pine Recovery and Refinement”

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