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Featured Plant

Pinus pseudostrobus var. apulcensis


Scientific Name: Pinus pseudostrobus var.apulcensis; formerly Pinus oaxacana

Common Names: Apulca pine, waterfall pine, Oaxaca pine

Family: Pinaceae

Plant Type: Tree

Environment: Cold hardiness limit between 20°F and 34°F

Bloom: Autumn and winter

Uses: Specimen tree. In southern Mexico it is commonly harvested for timber.

Other: In the wild this tree is a host to dwarf mistletoe. Season's Greetings!.



Pinus pseudostrobus var. apulcensis

he shimmering, eight-inch long needles of the Apulca pine droop in beguiling fashion as you walk down the road toward the Native Garden, inviting all who pass to touch them. The pendant, glossy needles swiftly shed both rain and condensation from fog in southern Mexico's 6000-foot high cloud forests. Apulca pine is named after a small town in the Sierra Madre highlands. It is one of more than fifty different pines that are native to Mexico. With its different climates, soils, and elevations, Mexico has more species of pines than any other country in the world. Dr. Dennis Breedlove, whose collections from Chiapas are the basis of the San Francisco Botanical Garden's Cloud Forest, brought back the seed that produced this pine in 1986. 

The leaves of pines are in the form of needles, clustered in bundles or "fascicles" held together by a papery sheath, distinguishing pines from other conifers. The number of needles per fascicle varies by pine species, from one to eight. Waterfall or Apulca pine has five needles per fascicle. Clouds of yellow pollen drift through the air from the male pollen cones of pines in spring and, with a favorable breeze, land on receptive female cones. Two to three years later, a mature "seed cone" or "pine cone" is formed. Apulca pine cones are lustrous and oval and are borne in twos and threes and the stalk remains connected to the branch after they fall. On mature trees, the bark is rough with deep vertical fissures. They can grow to one hundred and fifty feet! 

Similar to the high elevation cloud forests of Mexico, San Francisco also has wet/dry seasons with ample fog to make up for lack of precipitation. Because of our unique mild, foggy climate, we have been able to establish plant collections from three of the world's threatened cloud forest regions: Mesoamerica, the Andean Mountains, and Southeast Asia. All contain precious plants, some now extinct in their native habitats. Mexican pines in the San Francisco Botanical Garden may one day share the overstory with our canopy of Monterey cypress and Monterey pine that have inhabited the Botanical Garden site for over one hundred years.

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text: Kathy McNeil, Corey Barnes, Marc Johnson. Photos: Joanne Taylor, Charlotte Masson, Marc Johnson, Mona Bourell, Kathryn Rummel.


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