Plant DetailShow Menu

Pinus thunbergii is often confused with:
Pinus nigra Pinus nigra
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Pinus nigra Pinus nigra
Pinus sylvestris Pinus sylvestris
Pinus strobus Pinus strobus

Pinus thunbergii

Previously known as:

  • Pinus thunbergiana
Phonetic Spelling
PI-nus thun-BERJ-ee-eye
Description

The Japanese black pine is an evergreen, conifer tree that grows 20 to 60 feet tall and 12 to 20 feet wide. It has a flat-topped pyramidal form with no prominent central leader. As it ages, it will be irregular and asymmetrical, with a spreading crown with pendulous branches. It has a shrubby habit and curved trunk. The needles are dark green, paired, and finely pointed. The cones are brownish-gray and abundant. This specimen is also noted for its silky, whitish, candle-like terminal buds. The contrast with the foliage gives the tree an interesting look. Young foliage candles are upright. The bark is black-gray, furrowed, and scaly. 

This tree is native to Japan and Korea and may occur in groves, along the seacoast, or on rocky cliffs. 

The genus name, Pinus, is the Latin name for pine. The epithet, thunbergii, is named in honor of Carl Peter Thunberg, a Swedish physician, and botanist who introduced many plants from Japan.

The Japanese black pine prefers full sun and moist, well-drained, and fertile soils. It is tolerant of sand, heat, drought, and salt. This tree has a medium growth rate and transplants easily. It is easy to grow and requires very little maintenance. Pruning is not required.

This plant is commonly misidentified as P. nigra in trade, a species easily distinguished by a central leader and spring candles.

The Japanese black pine is utilized in coastal areas and seashore plantings for reclaiming dunes. It is popular as a bonsai plant, and it may also be used in the home landscape in Cottage or Asian Gardens. It is a dense plant that serves as a great screening.

Seasons of Interest:

Foliage:  Year-round     Fruits:  Fall and Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • No central leader, flat-topped, irregularly shaped, curved trunk
  • paired dark green needles, finely pointed,
  • silky, whitish, candle-like terminal buds
  • abundant brownish-gray cones

Insect, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  The Japanese black pine is usually problem-free when the tree is young. As the tree reaches 20 years of age, fungal diseases can occur. Diplodia tip blight, rusts, cankers, blight, and leaf cast are some issues affecting this plant's health.  Some pests include pinewood nematodes, caterpillars, sawflies, scale, mealybugs, borers, miners, and weevils.

VIDEO created by Ryan Contreras for “Landscape Plant Materials I:  Deciduous Hardwoods and Conifers or Landscape Plant Materials II:  Spring Flowering Trees and Shrubs” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University

 

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Bonsai Garden Mountain Ridge Top Garden - North Woods
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Banshosho'
  • 'Majestic Beauty'
    fast growing, dark green needles, 40 to 50 feet tall
  • 'Oculus Draconis'
    Variegated
  • 'Pygmaea'
    Compact with irregular rounded form
  • 'Shirone Jamone'
    2 bands of golden yellow on each dark green needles
  • 'Thunderhead' Pinus thunbergii 'Thunderhead'
    Bright green needles
  • 'Yatban Sho'
'Banshosho', 'Majestic Beauty', 'Oculus Draconis', 'Pygmaea', 'Shirone Jamone', 'Thunderhead', 'Yatban Sho'
Tags:
#cultivars#evergreen#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#wildlife plant#moths#conifer#bonsai#salt tolerant#needled evergreen#deer resistant#nighttime garden#children's garden#playground plant#screening#pollinator plant#fantz#Asian garden#larval host plant#moth larvae#wind damage prone#imperial moth#landscape plant sleuths course#cone
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Banshosho'
  • 'Majestic Beauty'
    fast growing, dark green needles, 40 to 50 feet tall
  • 'Oculus Draconis'
    Variegated
  • 'Pygmaea'
    Compact with irregular rounded form
  • 'Shirone Jamone'
    2 bands of golden yellow on each dark green needles
  • 'Thunderhead' Pinus thunbergii 'Thunderhead'
    Bright green needles
  • 'Yatban Sho'
'Banshosho', 'Majestic Beauty', 'Oculus Draconis', 'Pygmaea', 'Shirone Jamone', 'Thunderhead', 'Yatban Sho'
Tags:
#cultivars#evergreen#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#wildlife plant#moths#conifer#bonsai#salt tolerant#needled evergreen#deer resistant#nighttime garden#children's garden#playground plant#screening#pollinator plant#fantz#Asian garden#larval host plant#moth larvae#wind damage prone#imperial moth#landscape plant sleuths course#cone
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Pinus
    Species:
    thunbergii
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Southern Japan and South Korea
    Distribution:
    Introduced: NY
    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.
    Play Value:
    Easy to Grow
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 12 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Irregular
    Pyramidal
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Female cones are short-stalked to subsessile, ovoid to conical, small, 1.6 to 2.8 inches long, and 1.4 to 2.6 inches wide, shiny light brown, woody, egg-shaped, and they have a depressed umbo. They may appear singularly or in pairs and are abundant. The seeds are dark brown to black and winged.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Insignificant
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    The male flower is reddish-yellow and appears in clusters at the end of the branch. The female flower is oval and reddish. This tree is monoecious and flowers are seen in early spring.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Filiform
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The needles are paired, dark green, twisted, 2.5 to 4.25 inches long, rigid, and finely pointed. There are stomata lines on all sides, and the bundle sheath is 13 mm long. The margins are entire.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Black
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Furrowed
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    The bark is black-gray, furrowed, longitudinally fissured, and has irregular scales.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Light brown with many bracts, becomes glabrous and possibly ridged. Twigs bear appressed scale leaves that are light brown, becoming blackish-gray with age, bearing axillary fascicles of needles. Candles form in fall and over winter become elongated. Buds are ovoid-cylindrical, acute, scales non-resinous, apices free, grayish-fimbriated.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Patio
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Children's Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Salt