Scotch Pine

The scotch pine (PInus sylvestris) is not native to Iowa. It is a European species that was brought to this country by the English. It has been planted widely in Iowa, both for farmstead windbreaks and ornamental use.  It is a fast-growing tree in early life, but most strains of it soon slow down in height growth and develop a flat, wide spreading top of gnarled and crooked branches. Scotch pine grows 50 to 75 feet tall.

scotch pine twig and needles
Scotch Pine Twig and Leaves - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

Hardiness: Zones 3a through 7 - not heat tolerant

Growth Rate: Moderate 

Mature Shape: Irregular pyramidal. Scotch pines look like other pines when young, but as they age they can take on many different shapes.

Height: 30-60 feet

Width: 20-40 feet

Site Requirements: Sandy and well-drained soils. Poor, dry sites will support this tree. Full sun.

Leaves: Alternate, simple, double-toothed with unequal leaf bases

Flowering Dates: May - June

Seed Dispersal Dates: December - March

Seed Bearing Age: 5-15 years

Seed Bearing Frequency: Every 4 to 6 years

Seed Stratification: No stratification period is needed.

The 1-1/2 to 3 inch long, bluish needles occur in bundles of two and are twisted or spiral as they leave the twig.

The cone is small, 1 to 1-1/2 inches in length and sometimes remain on the trees for many years. The branching of the tree is quite open and the branches appear sparse.

At the base of older trunks the bark is grayish brown to brown in color, but on the upper trunk and larger branches the bark is bright orange and flaky, with the outer bark peeling off in large scales.

Scotch pine is no longer recommended for long term planting because of Pine Wilt Nematode

scotch pine cones
Scotch Pine Fruit - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

Diseases that Can Affect Scotch Pine

Insects that Can Affect Scotch Pine

pink immature scotch pine flowers
Immature Scotch Pine Flowers - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

white scotch pine flowers
Scotch Pine Flowers, Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

scotch pine trunk showing bark
Scotch Pine Bark - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University