Pinaceae (pine family) Pinus

Pinus coulteri Coulter pine

Top half of Pinus coulteri, viewed from the hillock just west of SAE. Sairus Patel, 2 Jan 2019
Seed cones (9½ and 9″ long) and needles in groups of 3 (6¾″ long) of Pinus coulteri at SAE. Sairus Patel, 2 Jan 2019

Coulter pine is conspicuous by its large cones (it is often called bigcone pine) that may be over a foot long and are covered with long, wicked, incurving claws. The needles are in threes, about 9 inches long and have a deep bluish tinge. Coulter pine is widespread in the coast ranges of Southern California, but is also common in the Santa Lucia Mountains just south of Monterey, and reaches as far north as the Bay Area. The cone scales have a rather attractive two-tone coloration. Why this native has not been accorded more respect on campus is a mystery.

A mature specimen is 40 feet west of the ΣAE parking lot on Campus Drive East, among a group of P. halepensis. It is named for the Irish botanist Thomas Coulter (1793–1843).

Pinus coulteri cone, needles, seeds. From: George B. Sudworth, Forest Trees of the Pacific Slope
Comparison of seeds and seed wings of Pinus coulteri and Pinus sabiniana. John Rawlings, c 2005

Name derivation: Pinus – Latin for pine; coulteri – after its discoverer Thomas Coulter (1793–1843), an Irish botanist and physician.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.