Pinus brutia Calabrian pine
Pinus brutia is widespread on campus and can easily be mistaken for Aleppo pine (P. halepensis), a close relative. Aleppo pine has shorter needles (2.5–4 inches long) and shorter cones (3 inches long) than Calabrian pine, whose needles are typically 5–6.5 inches long and cones to 4.5 inches long. Basically we are calling trees with the short, light green, notably fine needles P. halepensis, and those with longer, dark green, stiff and somewhat twisted needles P. brutia.
Note that these pines are also closely related to another common 2-needled campus pine, Italian stone pine (Pinus pinea). Younger trees that have not developed the characteristic table-top canopy of Italian stone pines, or leaning habit of Aleppo pines, bearing limbs often festooned with witches’-brooms, a growth of dense ball of twigs and needles resulting from viruses or fungi, may cause consternation until the needles are examined. The needles of P. brutia, on the other hand, are similar to those of Italian stone pine, and the cones and seeds become a definitive field character. The cones of P. pinea are more substantial – thicker, woodier – than the look-alike (except for size) cones of brutia and halepensis, beacuse each scale has evolved to bear its two, large, wingless edible seeds, or pine nuts. Each seed has a hard shell that has to be removed before eating. Additionally, fresh cones of pinea are an unmistakable glossy, chestnut brown. A glance at the thin-scaled brutia cones suggests they bear small seeds (see the cone illustration for P. halepensis).
A grove of P. brutia surrounds the parking lot situated between Jerry Residence and the Knoll.
P. brutia var. eldarica was formerly considered to be a variety of the Aleppo pine, with which it can be compared. The needles are in twos, the cones are without prickles, thin-scaled, and up to 5 inches long. It may be seen behind Schwab Residential Center, tucked away in the corner the building makes with Vidalakis Dining (location). Its four companions were removed during the construction of Ng House in 2014 (though two nearby 2-needled pines among the Canary Island pines might be contenders).
About this Entry: John Rawlings authored the P. brutia text (c 2008). The var. eldarica portion is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Natural range of P. brutia corrected to exclude S. Italy; Calabrian is a misnomer; ref. conifers.org (Oct 2017, SP). P. b. var. eldarica updated to note removals and contenders (Dec 2018, SP). Title changed only to P. brutia (Jan 2024, SP).