The range of the Austrian Pine and its varieties
together includes Central and Southern Europe,
and part of Western Asia. There is a variety known
as the Corsican Pine, and its botanical name correctly
set out is Pinus nigra var. calabrica.
It is a comparatively recent addition to our sylva
in both forms, for the Corsican Pine was introduced
in 1759, in the belief that it was a maritime
form of the Scots Pine, but the type was first
sent out by Messrs. Lawson & Son, the Edinburgh
nurserymen in 1835.
The Corsican Pine is a slender tree if somewhat
pyramidal form, growing to a height of eighty
to one hundred and twenty feet. The Austrian Pine,
though a large tree, is of smaller proportions
– from sixty to eighty feet high –
but with stouter and longer branches, and denser
The leaves, which vary from three to five inches
in length, are sheathed in pairs, convex on the
outer side, rigid, glossy, dark green, and with
toothed margins. The cones are solitary or in
clusters, ovoid-conic in shape, shining brown,
two or three inches long, by an inch in diameter,
straight or curved. They ripen in the spring or
summer of the third year and fall off soon after
the escape of the seeds.
Pinus nigra is a very variable species, including
several geographical forms which differ in habit
and density of foliage. The species may generally
be distinguished amongst two-leaved pines by its
yellowish-brown shoots, stout leaves, ovoid, abruptly
pointed buds, and tawny-yellow cones.
Pinus nigra and its varieties will thrive in pure
sand and on that account make excellent seaside
trees. The Austrian Pine when exposed to strong
sea winds develops a dense branch system, which
affords a good windbreak, and it is therefore
useful as a shelter belt. It also grows vigorously
in inland localities on a variety of soils. Austrian
and Corsican Pines are a feature of the sand dunes
at Holkham, Norfolk, where they were planted between
1855 and 1890. They furnish a good object lesson
of the value of the species in fixing the sand
dunes and the provision of shelter. Its timber,
though coarse in grain, is very durable, and useful
for outside work.
At Kew Gardens, near the main gate, one can judge
the value of the Corsican Pine for planting on
poor, dry, sandy soil, for there are several fine
trees, including an old one over ninety feet high.
This tree was brought to England by Salisbury
in 1814 when a seedling only six inches high.