Pine trees of the San Gabriel Mountains

Did you know that California has more pine species than any other state or foreign nation except Mexico? The theme of our Summer 2010 Mountain Plant Walks is Pathways through the pines. It includes examining the genus Pinus (pronounced pie-nus) and the flora surrounding it. The title has two meanings, both walking through pine forests, and finding ways to tell the pines apart from one another.

There are eight native pines and two introduced pines common in our area.  The native pines are sugar (P. lambertiana), Jeffrey (P.jeffreyi), Coulter (P. coulteri), ponderosa (P. ponderosa), pinyon (P. monophylla), lodgepole (P. contorta ssp. murrayana), gray (P. sabiniana) and limber (P. flexilis). Knobcone (P. attentuata) and Aleppo (P. halapensis) have been planted extensively by the forest service. It is comical that the signs saying, “You are now entering the Angeles National Forest,” on Highway 2 and Mt Baldy Road have the introduced Aleppo pine planted next to them! Knobcone is native to the San Bernardinos and Santa Anas, but not to the San Gabriels. Our 2010 walks take us to places where we can see them all except maybe limber pine, which is found only on the summits of the highest mountains and requires more ambitious hiking. We saw gray pine at Desert Pines Wildlife Sanctuary in April 2010.

Places visited in our Summer 2010 Mountain Plant Walks, and where pines were featured, include Desert Pines Wildlife Sanctuary, Manker Flat and San Antonio Canyon, Table Mountain, Mt. Pinos, and Dawson Saddle.

Here are some useful references and background reading about pines and other local conifers.

Files you can download (all are PDF files):

- How to know the pines in San Antonio Canyon, 3 pages

- Investigating Manker Flat, 2 pages

- Evergreens everywhere, a quiz, 1 page

- Trees of Mt. Baldy Visitor Center, 4 pages

- Tree identification key, 1 page

- Claws and Effect, a light-hearted look at prickles on pine cones, Jan. 2005 newsletter, page 5

Tom Chester's web pages:

- Pine Primer for the San Gabriel Mountains

- Plant Species of San Jacinto Mountain: Jeffrey pine and ponderosa pine

- Plant Species of San Jacinto Mountain: Variation of Yellow Pine Cones with Moisture Content

Best Book: Conifers of California, Ronald M. Lanner, Cachuma Press, May 1999

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Thanks to Jane Strong for the content of this page.