Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Pinaceae belong to the Gymnosperm group along with the Cupressaceae (Cypress Family), Taxaceae (Yew Family), and Taxodiaceae (Redwood Family) - all Needle-leaved, Cone-bearing Trees. The seeds of these tress are usually exposed, and not enclosed by a fruit structure like a flowering plant, hence the name Gymnosperm: "naked seed." (Kinda racy, huh? Who says botany is dull?)

The Pinaceae seeds are produced on the surface of scales of a woody cone, often tightly fit together when still on the tree. The structure separates and opens up when the cone is fallen from the tree and sufficiently dried. The leaves are needle-like, alternate or in bundles that are alternate.

On Montara Mountain, we have the not-quite-native Pinus radiata - (Montery Pine) and the really native Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir).



Pinus radiata
Montery Pine

Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Flowers: Yellowish, large pollen producing structures at tips of branches.

Blooms: Late Winter, early Spring.

Leaves: Needle-like, dark green, in alternating bundles of three; 3 - 7 inches long.

Fruit/Seeds: Conical, lopsided and closed cones, 3 - 6 inches in length; in ringed clusters that cling to trees for many years. The cones open to release small, long-winged seeds on very hot days and in fires.

Location: All throughout the mountain at lower elevations.

Status: Not-Really-Native but Common.

Pinus radiata
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There are only 3 known native stands of Monterey Pine left in the Monterey Peninsula area, and these are threatened by a new strain of pine-pitch canker, that has been showing up in planted groves throughout the state. Many of the Monterey Pines planted in the MidCoast communities have developed canker, and we are monitoring the trees in the parks that have also contrtacted it.

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Further description & Comment: Evergreen; straight-trunked with narrow, irregular open crown. Pinus radiata. is actually native only to the Monterey peninsula, about 100 miles to the south. The Monterey Pines on Montara Mountain, and others throughout the San Mateo County MidCoast, were first planted by ranchers in the 1800's, and have established large colonies since then. They can grow up to 50 feet tall or higher, and are planted extensively in the Southern Hemisphere for timber.

To the left, the familar silhouette of a Monterey Pine in McNee Ranch State Park.

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600x450 JPG - 52K

Above left, late winter pollinators spread wispy clouds of yellowish pollen in the winds. Above right, in spring the new generation of cones begin to develop on the tips of the branches.


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