It must be confessed that the Stone Pine, with
its squat, heavy, umbrella-like head, is less
beautiful than picturesque, a point that strongly
commends it to the landscape painter.
The date of its introduction to Britain is not
known, but it has been in cultivation here certainly
for nearly four hundred years. In its native countries
it attains a height of sixty to eighty feet, but
in this country the finest examples are about
Its trunk, covered with rugged, and deeply fissured
thick, red-grey bark, forks at no great distance
from the roots, and sends off massive spreading
branches of great length.
For several years the young tree produces short
single leaves, but later leaves are five or six
inches long, slender, and of a bright green tint,
in pairs, united at their base by a pale sheath.
These leaves endure for two or three years.
The pollen-bearing flowers are crowded into a
spike. The female flowers are about three-quarters
of an inch long, composed of pale greenish scales.
After fertilization, these grow to a length of
four to six inches, of a rugged oval form, red-brown
in colour, ripening in the third year. The scales
of these cones are somewhat wedge-shaped, with
a stout rhomboid boss, which has a depression
round the central protuberance.
The seeds, which are eaten for dessert and preserved
as sweetmeats in the countries where the Stone
Pine is native, are enclosed in a bony shell,
and it is from this circumstance that the tree
gets its name.