Jeffrey Pine Pinus Jeffreyi

Jeffrey Pines are not native to the Santa Lucia Mountains, but are a California native that was introduced by the US Forest Service in 1909 to several locations in the range. They survived and naturalize in only one location at 5000 feet. I have included them here because on their unique place in our local plant communities. Jeffrey Pines and Coulter Pines are known to hybirdize and they grow together in this particular location. Ponderosa Pines and Jeffrey Pines are so similar that some early taxonomist put them as a variety of Ponderosa. They too can hybridize. In addition, Jeffrey pines appear to do well in locations with frequent (low intensity) fires, thus a species worth watching over time as fire patterns change.

Jeffrey Pine GroveJeffrey Pines on a high peak in the central region of the Santa Lucia Mountains. These Jeffrey Pines are surrounded by Coulter Pines. The tree to the far right of the above photo is a Coulter Pine. The small enclave of trees in this region appear to reach mature heights of up to 100 feet.

Jeffrey Pine Branch and Needle and ConeNeedles and female seed cone of the Torrey Pine.

Jeffrey Pine Needles
Jeffrey Pine needles are in bunches of three and are generally 7-9 inches long.

Jeffrey Pine female conesFemale cones on the ground. Last year's cones mixed with freshly fallen cones. Mature seed cones are mahogany brown when young and change to dark brown and grey as they age. Average cones are around 8 inches long.

Jeffrey Pine Cone Close-up
Jeffrey Pine cones spines turn slightly inward distinguishing them from Ponderosa Pines which turn outward and are are felt in the hand. Thus, the "gentle Jeffrey, prickly Ponderosa" when trying to distinguish the two species by the female seed cone.

Jeffrey Pine male pollen conesMale pollen cones are are unusually long relative to other pines in the area.

Jeffrey Pine bark
Jeffrey Pine bark on a mature trees has scaly puzzle-piece plates with the color ranging from reddish brown to grey. The bark has a distinctive smell of vanilla or pinapple. The trunk on this specimen is 2-1/2 feet in diameter.

Jeffrey Pines and fire
The fire of Basin Complex Fire of 2008 seems to have favored young Coulter Pines over young Jeffrey Pines where the two intermix. Mature Jeffrey Pines had a high survival rate. Fire frequency and time will tell if Jeffrey Pines are able to maintain their population in the Santa Lucias.

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