Afghan Pine

        (Pinus Eldarica)









The Afghan pine (Pinus eldarica) is a tree with many labels. It has a second taxonomic classification, P. brutia var. eldarica, and common names that include desert pine, eldar pine and Mondell pine. This species is a member of the prolific Pinaceae family, which includes hundreds of different pine trees that grow in various climates around the world.




Like other pine species, the Afghan pine is a coniferous evergreen tree. Its foliage emerges as fine needles, which grow to 5 or 6 inches in length. The tree's yellow flowers often bloom unnoticed -- the small blossoms are hidden among the plant's branches and leaves. Afghan pines grow to about 40 feet tall, but some particularly vivacious trees can exceed 60 feet in height. The tree's pyramidal structure has a lateral spread of 25 to 30 feet. Each tree produces both male and female flowers, allowing self-pollination if they are not near other members of their species.


Climate and Environment:

The Afghan pine prefers warmer temperatures than most of the Pinus genus. It thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 6 through 8, but can also grow in parts of zones 9, 10 and 11. This range encompasses most of the continental U.S. -- it covers southern states, like New Mexico and Alabama, as well as coastal states on both the Pacific and Atlantic shorelines. Afghan pines can grow in extremely arid climates, including the desert regions of Arizona and Texas. They grow best with full exposure to sunlight and can tolerate slight drought, temperature fluctuations and various soil conditions.


History and Origin:

Pinus eldarica is not native to the Americas or Europe, but originated in the warm and dry climates of western Asia, including areas of Asia Minor, the Middle East and land around the Caspian Sea. This species is one of the newest members of American forests. It was introduced to the U.S. in the middle of the 20th century and was not distributed until the 1960s. It has become established in various states and climate zones throughout the country, but it is not nearly as common as native pine species.



The Afghan pine was first imported to the Americas for its potential use as a Christmas tree. However, it proved difficult for growers to train and prune, so it did not become a popular holiday tree option. The Afghan pine does have significant aesthetic value, thanks to its symmetrical growth pattern. It is particularly suitable for dry climates that cannot support fragile ornamental trees. Its relatively dense foliage also makes it a viable choice as a shade tree for lawns and open areas.





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