Pinus coulteri D.Don

Fully-hardy, medium-sized to large tree of pyramidal habit, with stout, ridged young shoots striking, resinous, orange winter buds, and large cones, to 35cm long, to 2kg in weight.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Introduced to Britain in 1832.  [Hilliers’].  ‘Pinus Coulteri. (Lambert. mss. D. Don in Linn. Trans. 17. p. 440.)  I notice this plant for the purpose of correcting an error that has found its way into works on Pines, and of which I have just been made aware by Mr. Lambert.  It is stated by Mr. Loudon, in his Arboretum Britannicum, and his statement is supported by the authority of Professor Don, that a Californian Pine, discovered by Douglas, and distributed by the Horticultural Society under my name of Pinus macrocarpa, is the same as P. Coulteri, a plant of which specimens were brought by Dr. Coulter from the same country, but of which no seeds have grown.  I find, however, upon comparing Mr. Lambert’s specimens of P. Coulteri with those of P. macrocarpa that this is by no means certain, and that in reality the two species are probably different.  The cone of P. Coulteri is twice as long as broad, namely, twelve inches by six; and its scales, which are generally directed upwards, have a long, sharp, ovate, or lancet-shaped extremity, which is suddenly narrower, and always perceptibly, often considerably longer than the compressed base.  In Pinus macrocarpa on the contrary the cone is rounder, and the scales, which are always recurved, have a shorter extremity, which narrows very gradually, and is usually shorter than the compressed base.  In Pinus Coulteri the leaves are much more short, stout, and stiff than in the other, and the sheath at their base is composed of loose distinctly imbricated scales; in P. macrocarpa, on the other hand, the scales forming the sheath are compactly arranged, and their imbricated character is not perceptible at first sight.  They are both remarkable for the hardness and heaviness of their cones; I find Mr. Lambert’s unripe cone of P. Coulteri weighs 3 lbs. 12 oz. and that of P. macrocarpa belonging to the Horticultural Society 4 lbs.  The wood-cut in Mr. Loudon’s Arboretum et Fruticetum Britannicum, p. 2951. fig. 2146. is a good representation of P. Couteri; but the description appears to be made up in part from that species and in part from P. macrocarpa.  The true P. Coulteri seems then to be still a desideratum in our gardens.’  [BR misc.133/1840].

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [C.66/1857].


Published Jul 21, 2009 - 05:11 PM | Last updated Jul 29, 2010 - 03:27 PM

More details about Pinus coulteri D.Don
Family Pinaceae
Region of origin

Southern USA, Mexico

  • Pinus macrocarpa Lindl.
  • Pinus ponderosa subsp. coulteri (D.Don) A.E.Murray
Common Name

Big cone pine, Coulter pine

Name in the Camden Park Record

Pinus macrocarpa

Confidence level high