Aleppo Pine

Description

Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis) is a medium tree ranging from 5 to 20 meters tall. The trunk often divides half way up into two or more stems. Many branches develop from these stems giving the tree a broad crown which can be a flat toped or domed shaped. The young branches are a silver grey that darkens, with age, to a purplish brown, red-brown or grey-black. The older bark develops narrow groves (furrows). The Aleppo Pine has needle like leaves which are arranged in groups of two enclosed in a light brown or greyish sheath at the base. The leaves are 7 to 12 mm long and often have a twist. This species has no flowers but produces male and female cones on the same tree. The female cone is brown and oval shape between 6 and 12 cm long and 4 to 7 cm wide. The cylindrical males are smaller and clustered at the branch tips. The female cones bend back (deflect) on the branch and remains on the tree after the seeds have matured. It takes 2 to 3 years for the seeds to mature. Seeds are small and winged which helps for wind distribution (Navie 2004; Farjon 2005; Groves et al. 2005).

For further information and assistance with identification of Aleppo Pine contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Distribution:

Widely grown in public parks Aleppo Pine has naturalised in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. Aleppo Pine is also recorded growing in Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory (Spencer 1995; Navie 2004; Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation 2005; APC 2007; AVH 2007).

Habit:

Tree

Key points:

  • Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis) is a very hardy species that can survive in a wide variety of conditions
  • Infestations of Aleppo Pine, like other Pine species, can dramatically change the environmental conditions of an area.
  • The thick layer of pine needles prevent native species seedling establishment.
  • Control methods are the same as other Pine species and woody weeds.

How it spreads:

Aleppo Pine reproduces only from seed. It produces a large amount of seed which can be carried by the wind over large distances or dispersed by birds, particularly the Yellow Tailed Back Cockatoo (Muyt 2001; Navie 2004; Groves et al. 2005).

Where it grows:

Aleppo Pine is a very hardy species. It can withstand drought, poor drainage, excessive heat, high winds and some aerial salt. It grows well on dry rocky limestone soils and can tolerate both acid and alkaline soils (Farjon 2005; Groves et al. 2005; Will et al. 2007).

Flower colour:

No flower

Impacts:

Aleppo Pine can have a dramatic effect on the environment. The thick pine leaf litter can reduce the fertility and change nutrient cycling in soils as well as changing the water cycle. This leaf litter will also create a thick layer that prevents seedling establishment, especially of native species, reducing plant biodiversity in an area (Muyt 2001).

Pine species in general can have an impact on human health. Physical contact with pine trees, pine pollen or pine dust can cause dermatitis and trigger asthma in sensitive people (Rademaker 2007).

Origin:

Aleppo Pine is known from around the Mediterranean and Western Asia (Farjon 2005; Groves et al. 2005). Aleppo Pine is generally replaced by Calabrian Pine (Pinus bruita) in the areas around the Aegean Sea, Black Sea and on the coast of Turkey (Frajon 2005).

History:

Aleppo Pine was common in nursery catalogues of the mid to late nineteenth century and was widely planted in parks and gardens as a shade tree. Cultivated trees are excluded from the declaration of the species as a weed in South Australia (Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation 2005).

Aleppo Pine and Calabrian Pine (Pinus brutia) are both cited as the species brought to Australia from Gallipoli as seed from the tree known as The Lone Pine (Spencer 1995; Heritage Victoria 2005; Will et al. 2007; Australian War Memorial undated; City of Melbourne undated; Yarralumla Nursery undated). The two species are relatively close in appearance and native distribution (Farjon 2005). Aleppo Pine is sold in nurseries with seedlings of The Lone Pine available for commemorative plantings. It is considered in South Australia to be one of the 10 most invasive plants still for sale in nurseries (Groves et al. 2005; Yarralumla Nursery undated).