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Pinus pinea
Stone pine

Stone pine (Pinus pinea) is a medium-sized coniferous tree. As a result of many years of cultivation, the native distribution of the tree is unknown. However, today, the natural distribution is near the Mediterranean Basin, extending from Portugal to Syria.

Stone pine is mainly known and is commercially important for its highly nutritional and edible seeds: pine nuts. The tree’s wood is of low quality but used locally for furniture, while the resin is tapped and used for rosin. Other uses include stabilisation of sand dunes and as an ornamental in warmer regions in Europe.

Stone pine grows well in dry and sunny areas with high temperatures but is also able to tolerate frost. Despite low genetic diversity, the species grows on a wide range of different soils and climatic conditions. It prefers sandy, acidic soils but tolerates calcareous ones, as well. Its growth, though, is limited on very loamy soils. 

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Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use

Pinus pinea - Technical guidelines for genetic conservation and use for Italian stone pine

Publication Year: 2004
Author: Fady, B.; Fineschi, S.; Vendramin, G.G.

The conservation of forest genetic resources in the Mediterranean basin is a very complex task, as ecological and socioeconomic conditions are highly variable among countries. Because of their history of overexploitation since agriculture emerged some 10 000 years ago, assessing whether current Mediterranean forests are really well adapted and truly natural is challenging, although necessary for any careful conservation strategy.
This is the case for P. pinea, in particular. A number of scientific gaps should be filled. The past history and ecology of this species need to be understood to outline the areas of autochthony. Knowing its current adaptive diversity is also a prerequisite to outlining its potential distribution area and the consequences it may suffer from environmental changes. As in other forest tree species, implementing an in situ conservation network where selected populations are allowed to naturally regenerate without introduction of exotic material is recommended. Regions of autochthony such as Spain and the eastern Mediterranean, areas where ecological conditions are extreme (high altitude, low rainfall, high salinity etc.), and areas where extensive populations currently exist, should be the primary targets for such a network.

Appropriate silvicultural and management strategies should include the leaving of the highest possible number of seed trees before regeneration to promote maximum outcrossing and pollen flow. This might mean not cutting severely burned trees after wild fires. It should also include, in areas that are not designated for seed production, letting natural selection (rather than managed thinning) sort out young trees after regeneration. Wild fires and overgrazing being the most important risks for P. pinea forests, fire protection and social measures that might reduce these hazards should also be addressed for the effective conservation of this typically Mediterranean pine.


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