Cathtees's picture

Conifer in timber forest

Observed: 28th March 2013 By: Cathtees

Photo_1 of branch which has been cut down showing cones in clusters on branches; photo_2 showing close up of cone and dead leaves

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) interacts


Rachy Ramone's picture


...are they in pairs, or in threes, Cath? It's a bit hard to tell from the photo.

If they are in threes, then it looks like Monterey - those lop-sided cones are quite distinctive.

Rachy Ramone

How to take close-ups with cheap phone and hand-lens:
Field Guides for Budding Botanists:

Cathtees's picture

unidentified pine

Yes, the leaves are in pairs and the cones are asymmetric as they are bunched up together on bare branches. Is there anything I should look for in the Spring which would separate to two species?

Rachy Ramone's picture


It's important to check how many needles are in each bundle (fascicle) - and you might need to check in several places along the twig to get to "mostly two" or "mostly three".

It's a lot harder with dead, dying foliage, as some of the needles can dry up and drop off.

The cone looks very much like Monterey (P. radiata), which has needles in bundles of three. But if there are definitely only two needles per fascicle, then it can't be Monterey.

Lodgepole (P.contorta)cones are also lopsided (although not as much as Monterey) but are distinguished by having a stout "prickle" on each cone scale. They are up to 2" (5cms) in length.

Monterey cones are substantial things, 3-7" (7-18cms) so if you measure the cone that you have, that might clear up the ID.

Hope this helps!

(I have a Monterey cone in my oven as I write, btw: I'm simulating a forest fire to get it to open so I can germinate the seeds.)

Rachy Ramone

How to take close-ups with cheap phone and hand-lens:
Field Guides for Budding Botanists:

Cathtees's picture

Monterey pine?

Thanks for all your help. The cone I have here measures 3" and the others are certainly not smaller than that so I would plump for a Monterey. The cone has prickles but all the I can see are in pairs. Trouble is the growing ones are too high up to see - the lower ones have all been cut down! I'll keep an eye over the next few months and look out for flowers etc.


MrG's picture


I'll admit I'm not very familiar with Lodgepole Pine hence my tentative id. However, I can't recall seeing prickles, which can be clearly seen in the photo, on the cones of Monterey Pine, with which I am familiar. The cones of Monterey Pines stay on the tree for some years and this can be a distinctive feature. Also, I'm not aware of Monterey Pine being used as a forestry tree but then I'm not a forester. If the needles are paired then this rules out Monterey Pine.

David Jardine's picture

Use of Monterey Pine

Monterey Pine is not used a great deal in forestry in the UK, but it is used in small quantities. In my experience it is used in exposed coastal areas as it has some salt resistant qualities.

It is the main non-native species used in New Zealand plantations.

All the best