Pinon Tree Tips: Growing Pinyon Pines

Not all pine timber are created equally. A very fascinating stand out is the pinon pine, additionally known as pinyon pine or piñon pine. This pine tree produces edible nuts. There are completely different varieties comparable to Colorado pinyon and Mexican pinyon and inside these varieties, there are differing types as effectively. There are two principal sorts of pinyon pines known as the single-leaf pinyon and the two-needle pinyon (also referred to as two-needle piñon). As you’ll be able to in all probability guess, the one leaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla) usually has a single pine needle protruding from every development level, whereas the two-needle pinyon has two needles at every development level. Most pinyon timber have yellow-green needles and produce pine cones over the course of their very lengthy lifetime. Some pinyon pine timber have been reported to stay for as much as 600 years in line with the US Forest Service!

The edible pine nuts of single leaf pinyon, two needle pinyon, and colorado pinyon pine style virtually cream-like in taste with the oiliness of macadamia and simply the slightest trace of a pine-like taste. The pinyon pine seeds are roasted and eaten as a snack and are generally used as an ingredient within the delicacies of New Mexico, which calls pinyon pine its state tree. Throughout pine nut harvest durations you’ll be able to typically discover them on the market at roadside stands that pop up in states the place these pines develop naturally, notably within the Nice Basin. They’ve additionally been a staple meals of Native Individuals for hundreds of years and will be discovered on reservations throughout the 4 corners area in southwestern North America into Mexico. 

The one disadvantage of the piñon pine is that it may be troublesome to develop; they’ve a really particular and set vary the place they produce cones crammed with these scrumptious pine nuts. Pinus edulis is native to 4 states within the US — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Whereas they are often grown outdoors that vary, that’s the place they thrive greatest — and that’s additionally why seed harvest rights are virtually completely Native American-controlled on this species of tree, as they’re a wild-growing tree in reservation nation.

Fast Care Information

The pinon pine tree is discovered largely within the southwestern US. Supply: Aquila-chrysaetos
Frequent Identify(s) Pinyon pine, Piñon pine
Scientific Identify Pinus edulis
Days to Harvest 10-15 years from seed to the primary harvest of edible nuts
Gentle Full solar
Water Can tolerate extreme drought and thrives in dry soil, give a great soak no less than as soon as a month
Soil Nicely-draining
Fertilizer Not crucial
Pests Pine scale, bark beetle
Ailments Black stain root illness, Armillaria root illness

All About The Pinon Tree

Sprouting piñon pine
A newly-sprouted piñon pine tree with the seed hull nonetheless hooked up. Supply: Lon&Queta

Pinyon pine species thrive of their native vary of the American southwest. Pinus edulis is even the state tree of New Mexico. The piñon nut just isn’t solely prized by people however are additionally helpful to surrounding wildlife. They’re a meals supply for birds and small mammals comparable to chipmunks. The pinyon jay of the Nice Basin is known as after its affinity for the pinyon nut. Because of this, pinyon jays will be present in an identical habitat as pinyon pine. They typically nest in pinyon pines and different low elevation pine timber comparable to ponderosa and juniper. The pinyon jay prefers to make its house in pinyon-juniper woodlands which are sometimes made up of Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis) and Utah juniper. The ecology of this relationship is mutually helpful because the pinyon jay readily spreads the seeds. 

Pinyon timber have a bushy look in contrast to different evergreens, they don’t develop in a triangular behavior however look reasonably gnarly with a rounded crown. They will simply develop to be 10-20 ft tall, typically even taller, though they’re extraordinarily slow-growing. The cones bear a resemblance to a brown rose and are additionally slow-growing, taking a number of seasons to succeed in maturity. As a conifer, they’re evergreen year-round, even within the desert. 

Mid-summer is prime harvest season for pinon nuts, nevertheless, harvests rely significantly on the quantity of rainfall acquired that 12 months. Pinon timber produce each math and feminine flowers and are usually wind-pollinated. As soon as a cone has shaped it then takes about 2-3 years for the cone to mature. The seeds style much like the extra available pine nut selection that you could be discover in your grocery retailer (the Italian pignoli nuts). They’re wealthy and fatty with a touch of pine taste. The seeds additionally resemble the Italian pine nuts, however are oftentimes bigger and served up at nighttime brown shell. 


Pinus edulis will be grown from seeds and/or transplanted from seedlings. Seedlings ought to be no less than 16 inches tall earlier than you transplant them out into the soil. Pinyon pine timber are notoriously slow-growing timber and it’ll take about 4-5 years from seeds for them to develop 16 inches tall. The seedlings would require common irrigation as soon as transplanted till they’re effectively established. You’ll know your pinyon pine is established whenever you start to see new development emerge. It’s best to plant new seedlings in spring or in fall. Keep away from transplanting throughout the warmth of the summer time when pinyon pine may have a tougher time getting established. Additionally, keep away from transplanting within the winter when the timber are naturally dormant.

When selecting a planting website take into account that whereas pinyon timber are slow-growing, they’ll finally come to be 10-20 ft tall and extensive over the course of 10-15 years. It’s additionally greatest to keep away from an space in your panorama that’s frequently irrigated because of the truth that an excessive amount of water can truly be detrimental to those crops. They’d reasonably be underwatered versus overwatered. This small tree makes a wonderful privateness display or accent behind smaller shrubs and evergreen timber like juniper. 


Pinon male pollen pod
Male flowers produce pollen pods comparable to these. Supply: digitalscully

Pinyon pine care requires minimal upkeep. These drought-tolerant pine timber have lengthy lives and have been recognized to stay as much as 600 years with little or no consideration! 

Solar and Temperature

Pinon timber do greatest in full solar the place they can get 6-8 hours of direct daylight. They’re native to Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado and thrive in USDA zones 4-8. Pinyon timber can tolerate poor soil situations and may even develop on rocky slopes which makes them notably effectively suited to the rocky mountain area, together with Grand Canyon Nationwide Park. This conifer can deal with scorching summers adopted by delicate winters which once more makes it notably effectively suited to the deserts discovered all through the Nice Basin area as effectively. Frost and freezes throughout the wintertime is not going to hurt this evergreen. Throughout instances of extreme warmth and extreme drought, it could want extra water to guard it from everlasting injury. 

Water and Humidity

Piñon pine (Pinus edulis) can survive with out a lot water, nevertheless, in case you’d like to reap the pine cones then common water will put you in the perfect place to take action. Water twice a month throughout particularly scorching and dry durations, water as soon as month-to-month in any other case. Throughout cone manufacturing improve watering pinyon pines to as soon as per week. Giving this tree a great soak on the base of the trunk with a soaker hose is the perfect method. Don’t water throughout winter as soon as temperatures are constantly under 40-45 levels because the tree will transfer into dormancy and water necessities will lower considerably. In case you are in an space like Colorado that receives snow throughout the winter, then this can present loads of irrigation throughout this era. 


Pinyon pine can tolerate quite a lot of soils so long as they’re well-draining. Pinyon pine timber naturally develop in sandy or loamy soils which might be barely acidic. Keep away from clay soils that maintain on to an excessive amount of water. Earlier than planting it’s a good suggestion to pH check the soil to be sure that it’s both impartial or barely acidic. Yours will be amended utilizing acidifier if crucial. It’s best to amend soils earlier than the tree is planted. 


Since pinyon pine timber are so gradual growers they often don’t want common fertilizing. If you happen to’d like to assist get a younger tree established then a 3-2-1 NPK fertilizer can be utilized 3 instances per 12 months for the primary few years. In any other case, fertilizing pinyon pine pine can truly trigger extra hurt than good. Attempting to hasten development by fertilizing and watering can weaken and kill this pinyon pine (Pinus edulis). 


Being a slow-growing tree additionally has the advantage of being low upkeep by way of pruning. The truth is, in case you so select, you possibly can get away with by no means pruning Pinus edulis and it will do exactly positive. Nevertheless, the perfect time to prune pinyon pine tree is when it’s younger as a way to form it to suit into your panorama. In any other case, you’ll solely have to prune to take away lifeless or broken wooden. Because it will get older reshaping could also be crucial, however this undoubtedly isn’t a tree that wants yearly pruning. When pruning lifeless and broken branches, take away them from the world promptly and keep away from piling them up in shut proximity to the tree. This may present the proper breeding floor for beetles that may assault this pine tree. Because of this, it’s additionally greatest to prune throughout the winter when these beetles are usually not lively as a substitute of different seasons. 


Pinyon pines can reliably be grown from seeds that can produce a plant species that’s true to kind. Nevertheless, since this tree is such a gradual grower, it will likely be no less than 5 years earlier than you will have a seedling that’s about 15 inches in peak. Seedlings and younger timber will be bought from respected nurseries they usually too will usually be on the smaller measurement. The price of pinyon pines is often fairly steep contemplating how lengthy it takes to develop them! Sadly pinyon timber (and timber of this plant kind) can’t be propogated from cuttings. 

Harvesting and Storing

Pinon pine cones and nuts
The feminine pine cones progressively open because the seeds inside ripen. Supply: bookwoman_52

Harvesting and storing the piñon nuts has an extended historical past amongst many generations of Native Individuals of the American Southwest and Mexico. It’s tied to custom in lots of situations and these strategies show to be the perfect.


Harvest the piñon cones earlier than they’ve opened. When about 25% of the pinyon pine cones have opened and the remainder stay closed, then that is the optimum time to start harvesting. The closed pine cones will probably have a little bit of a inexperienced tint to them. The peak of harvest season often happens round mid-summer. 

One documented technique for harvesting pinyon cones comes from a passage written by John Muir in 1878 the place he describes the Native American harvesters stacking the pine cones in a pile topped with brushwood after which flippantly scorching them with fireplace. This technique burned off the resin on the skin of the pinyon pine cones and loosened the seeds. Afterward, the burned cones can be got down to dry within the solar for a number of days till the seeds simply fell away from the cone. 


The nuts have naturally excessive ranges of fat within the type of monounsaturated fatty acids which assist decrease LDL additionally known as unhealthy ldl cholesterol. Due to this high-fat content material, the nut has the potential to spoil and go rancid. You’ll be able to inform they’re previous their prime in case you discover an off odor. There are some storage methods that may prolong their shelf life. The recent nuts ought to be saved in an hermetic container and will be saved below refrigeration for as much as 2 months. They are often saved within the freezer for even longer, as much as 6 months. As soon as roasted every nut will final even longer, they are often saved within the freezer for as much as a 12 months. With how scrumptious every pinyon nut is, I can’t think about having them round for that lengthy with out consuming all of them! 


Pine nuts
Pine nuts have a tough seed hull that have to be cracked to succeed in the nut meat. Supply: Zwedlana

Pinyon pines are about as low upkeep as they arrive. A tree that basically thrives on neglect makes it a welcome sight within the excessive desert panorama. There are, nevertheless, some troubleshooting suggestions to bear in mind. 

Rising Issues

If you happen to’re rising pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) for its cones then it is very important water it frequently. It is going to want water as soon as a month all year long and as much as twice a month throughout the hottest months of summer time. If the pine tree is not receiving sufficient water then this might have an effect on its capability to provide cones or the cones might even be sparse and stunted. 


Skinny and wispy development can point out piñon pine scale, a small insect that pierces the needles and sucks out the juices. In instances of significant infestation, pine scale may cause sufficient stress and injury to kill the tree. In excessive infestations or areas with recurring points with pine scale, it’s endorsed to use an natural systematic insecticide yearly. Using these pesticides ought to be a final resort as they’ll kill indiscriminately and may hurt helpful bugs as effectively. 

Bark beetles are onerous to identify visually as they’re smaller than a grain of rice. These beetles are interested in harassed and drought-stricken nut pine timber. They burrow into the bark the place they lay their eggs. A wholesome pinyon pine tree will enact its pure protection system of pumping resin into the tunnels and driving the beetles out. Nevertheless, a harassed or thirsty pinyon pine tree received’t have the vitality to make use of this protection. A tree affected by a bark beetle assault will start to drop its needles. Since all species of pines are evergreens there isn’t a cause for inexperienced needles to start falling until there’s something going awry. Infested limbs will be pruned away if the remainder of the plant is beetle free. Dispose of those limbs instantly. 


Black stain root illness is often transmitted by bugs that carry the spores. This vascular illness prevents the pinyon from taking over water and causes a black stain to look on the wooden. Bark beetles are likely to observe since they search out harassed timber and this mixture may cause the dying of the pinyon pine tree. There is no such thing as a remedy for this illness and contaminated timber ought to be destroyed or it could unfold to close by pines, together with pinyon pine. 

Armillaria root rot illness is a fungus that spreads alongside the piñon roots. This fungus can survive on lifeless wooden for as much as 35 years. This fungus prefers moist soil and delicate climates. It can not survive in scorching and dry areas. A very moist spring or fall is the proper breeding floor for this fungus. There is no such thing as a remedy for this illness, nevertheless, permitting the piñon plant to dry out might starve the fungus and gradual its development. 

Regularly Requested Questions

Mexican Pinyon Pine (Pinus cembroides)
Different pinyon relations like this Mexican pinyon develop equally and produce nuts. Supply: Dick Culbert

Q: How typically do pinon timber produce nuts?

A: The manufacturing of pinyon cones relies upon the quantity of rainfall acquired in a season. As soon as a cone is produced it could take 2-3 years to totally mature. 

Q: How do you determine a pinon tree?

A: Pinyon pines have a gnarly form with a rounded crown, and a single leaf or two needle with yellow-green needles. The cones have been mentioned to resemble brown roses. 

Q: How lengthy does it take for a pinon tree to develop?

A: Pinyon pine can take as much as 10-15 years to succeed in maturity and may stay for as much as 600 years. 

Q: Are pine nuts and pinon nuts the identical?

A: Pinyon pine seeds are a kind of edible pine nut as a result of they’re pine seeds. 

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