Parent Trees for Black Pine Seeds

Jonas and BT forum members,

Two years ago my brother in law bought me black pine seeds from an online source. I was amazed at how many were viable and produced seedlings. This year, inspired by your black pine from seed post I am trying to collect them myself.

Near us we have countless black pines growing in the local landscapes. I have already collected many pinecones but have some questions about selecting a parent tree.

  1. Some JBP have really long needles here (6-8") and some seem to have much shorter needles (3-5"). Do you take this into account when selecting a parent tree or do you think this only is a reflection of the growing conditions?

  2. When you say “good bark” what specific characteristics are you looking for? Are there particular hallmarks that make it good or bad to you?

  3. There seems to be a wide spectrum to the amount of resin covering the cones. One of my favorite parent trees seems to have every cone completely covered in resin. Is this just natural variance or something else?

  4. Some cones seem to come off relatively easy whereas others I have to spin around until they finally give way. Does this mean I should wait longer on these cones?

Thank you for the wonderful post and blog.

In the format you requested.

  1. Shorter, thicker darker coloured needles would be my preference.
  2. Bark that shows more variation, thicker plates, deeper fissures.
  3. I would avoid the cones with excess sap! The excess sap could be a sign of insects or disease more active in that tree.
  4. The cones that come off easily are more mature and likely a better bet. In my experience the shorter fatter cones contain better seeds.

Now in my own format i would look for a mature tree growing alone that has thicker, darker, shorter needles. Shorter internodes, denser branching, more compact and lower down than the others. And of course be sure of the species type. Their is a lot of variety in Black pine used in landscape applications.
Lastly look at the shoots, they should have short straight needles near the base. If the shoots are bare it is a poorer choice. This last point is very important.
For further information and future guidance in growing pines i would reccomend finding or acquiring a copy of the article by Kusida Matsuo
(Pine from Seed ).

Thank you for the detailed response. I have an article by the same name that has Mitsuya Matauo as an author. Is that the article you are referencing?

I will look for more trees adhering to your guidelines. Unfortunately, the one that has all the resin fits the bill perfectly…except the cones were a bit more difficult to remove than some others I have played with, and the resin of course. The bark, color, low branches, short needles and etc. look great though.

Thanks again.

Yes, deep plates of bark is what to look for:

Good bark and needles that emerge immediately after branch intersections are the characteristics I most look for with short, sturdy, straight needles coming in third.

The article by Mitsuya (Bonsai Today #12) is good though I don’t recommend the basic approach of building a cone-shaped trunk with sacrifice branches as it leaves too many scars. The article by Kusida is great (Bonsai Today #20).

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The article i referenced is Bonsai Today #20 as Jonas mentioned and is reprinted in the master series Pines " Growing & Styling Japanese Black & White Pines " .
I concur with Jonas on the trunk development concept. The very best pines show little or no scarring as a result of developing taper.