Pinus muricata. BISHOP PINE. California Coast
PINACEAE (Pine family)

Bishop pine is sometimes known as pricklecone pine because of the prickles on the handsome, small cones that reach about 3 inches in length and have the same arrangement as those of its giant relative, the Monterey pine. Many of the cones occur in pairs. This pine grows wild north of San Francisco Bay and south of Monterey. The 4-inch needles are in bundles oftwo, and the developing candles in spring have a distinctive purplish cast. Bishop pine is favored as a moderately sized alternative to Monterey pine, but has proved to be subject to sudden death from beetle attack, especially where planted in groups. The tiny ips beetles, also known as engraver beetles, emerge on warm summer days after a youth spent safely chewing at the cambium layer below the bark. One may notice piles of powder on the bark, forced out of tunnels that later will be a home for unfriendly fungi.

One survivor from an extensive 1959 planting is in the median on Serra Street northeast of the Fire Station, and a few others are scattered among pines in the perimeter planting of Escondido Village. Another is thriving in the planting strip of the southerly barrel of Campus Drive opposite Taube Family Tennis Court. Few others remain. Eight succumbed in the 1970s behind 836 Santa Fe Avenue alone. Two young ones form part of a conifer display at the south face of Landau Economics on Serra Street. There is a single tree in Lathrop Park near the play area.

Donald Culross Peattie, in A Natural History of Western Trees (1950), wrote:

"In Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate, it is often known as Umbrella Pine. For there it takes on, in billowy groves, a beautiful umbracular shape, not wholly unlike that of the Italian Stone Pines one sees in the backgrounds of Renaissance paintings. But the trees beside Mount Tamalpais look less premeditated and 'set' than those beside the Bay of Naples, more unkempt and wild, as befits a tree breathed on eternally by the prevailing westerlies off the North Pacific."

Illus.: George B. Sudworth. Forest Trees of the Pacific Slope. USDA, 1907. Click for larger image.

A simple key to campus pines.

Other campus pines: Pinus brutia eldarica | Pinus bungeana | Pinus canariensis | Pinus contorta | Pinus coulteri | Pinus densiflora | Pinus edulis | Pinus halepensis | Pinus jeffreyi | Pinus maximartinezii | Pinus mugo | Pinus muricata | Pinus nigra | Pinus patula | Pinus pinea | Pinus ponderosa | Pinus radiata | Pinus roxburghii | Pinus sabiniana | Pinus sylvestris | Pinus thunbergiana | Pinus torreyana | Pinus wallichiana

Illustrations (links open new windows): CalPhotos

Additions/Revisions:

Name derivation, genus | species The Latin name | rough with spines (the cone)

Related material: treatment in Jepson Manual | Gymnosperm Database

Botanical name index | Common name index | Family
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