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Limber Pine

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SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pinus flexilis
FAMILY: Pinaceae

This tree in Colorado This Colorado native grows on some of the harshest sites; high elevations that are rocky, dry and exposed. It typically grows at elevations from 9,000 to 11,000 feet, but is found below 5,000 feet at Pawnee Buttes on the plains northeast of Fort Collins, perhaps grown from seed left by traveling Indians. Limber pine grows in stands with ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, bristlecone pine and Engelmann spruce. It will grow as a pure stand where conditions are too harsh for other species. This “gangly” tree with irregular and horizontal limbs and an open crown is not often seen in the landscape but some varieties such as ‘Vanderwolf’ are becoming more readily available.

Hardiness Zone 2; cold hardy.

Growth rate Moderate growing to 35 feet.

Needles Dark blue green in bundles of 5 clustered at ends. The twigs are so flexible they can be tied in a knot.

Cones 3 to 6 inches long, oval, stout with sticky resin. The cone is tan brown and is produced from mid-August to October. The seeds are used by upland game and songbirds.

Bark Smooth gray in young trees. Scaly plates gray to black in mature trees.

Insects and diseases Bark beetles, dwarf mistletoe, white pine blister rust.

Best advice It is sensitive to soil compaction and does best on sunny sites. It is drought, heat and salt resistant.

Information sources
Gary Hightshoe, Trees for Conservation. (Colorado State Forest Service, 1996)
Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America (1988)