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Pinus mugo is often confused with:
Pinus virginiana Pinus virginiana
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Pinus taeda Growing in a stand
Pinus strobus Pinus strobus
Pinus koraiensis Pinus koraiensis

Pinus mugo

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
PY-nus MEW-go
Description

The mugo pine is a species of conifer in the Pinaceae (pine) family and is native to high elevation habitats from southern to central Europe. It is an evergreen gymnosperm shrub that grows 15 to 20 feet tall with a spread of 25 to 30 feet. Form and habit can be quite variable, although it is usually low, broad-spreading, and bushy. Mugo pine can take on a more prostrate form as well as becoming tree-like. 

This plant grows best in deep, moist, well-drained loam in full sun, or partial shade. However, it is very adaptable to poor soils, clay soils, sandy soils, dry soils, and soils of alkaline pH. Mugo pine prefers cool summer climates and is generally tolerant of urban conditions. It normally does not produce a tap root and is, therefore, easy to transplant. Prune annually in late winter to keep its compact size. This tree is resistant to damage by deer.

Although mugo pine is typically used in foundation plantings, it can be showcased as a specimen, used in mass or small groupings, planted along walkways or near ponds, or grown in containers on a patio.  Because this plant support moths and other pollinators it makes an excellent choice for a nighttime or pollinator garden.  Its interesting shape and evergreen needles also makes it work well in a winter or a rock garden.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Pine shrub with no central leader
  • Needles are in twos and are very short

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Pine needle scale and sawflies, as well as moths and borers may affect the mugo pine. It is also susceptible to tip blight, rusts, and rot. This tree is susceptible to wind damage.  

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Patio Room Mountain Ridge Top Garden - East Lawn and Lower Drive Border
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Columnaris', 'Compacta', 'Gallica', 'Mops', 'Ophir', 'Slowmound', var. pumilio
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#wildlife plants#moths#conifer#bonsai#low maintenance#winter interest#tsc#air pollution tolerant#pond margins#cpp#deer resistant#nighttime garden#rock gardens#pollinator plant#fantz#poor soils tolerant#larval host plant#sandy soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#moth larvae#tsc-cg#pollinator garden#wind damage prone#imperial moth#container plants
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Columnaris', 'Compacta', 'Gallica', 'Mops', 'Ophir', 'Slowmound', var. pumilio
Tags:
#evergreen#small tree#wildlife plants#moths#conifer#bonsai#low maintenance#winter interest#tsc#air pollution tolerant#pond margins#cpp#deer resistant#nighttime garden#rock gardens#pollinator plant#fantz#poor soils tolerant#larval host plant#sandy soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#moth larvae#tsc-cg#pollinator garden#wind damage prone#imperial moth#container plants
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Pinus
    Species:
    mugo
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Grafting
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Mountains of central and southern Europe
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant supports Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) larvae which have one brood per season and appear from April-October in the south. Adult Imperial Moths do not feed.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 15 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 25 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Tree
    Habit/Form:
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2b, 2a, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Gray/Silver
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    No fruits. 1 to 2 in. erect cones, matures to gray-black, many occur in clusters of 3 or 4. Female cones are subsessile, erect to slightly pendulous, ovoid to conical-ovoid, 1-2" long and 1/2- 1 1/2" wide.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Black
    Gray/Silver
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    No flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are needles clustered on dwarf shoots (fascicles) in twos. They are short (1-2" long), blunt, margins finely serrulate, medium to dark green, and weakly twisted. Leaves may become yellow-green in winter.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Bark Description:
    Scaly brown-gray bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Light green vertical stems with miniature needles (candles)
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Pond
    Slope/Bank
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer