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pinus silvestris L.
Latin sylva meaning forest
Scotch Pine, Scotch Fir, Red Pine, Norway Pine, Baltic Pine, Riga Pine, Dial Wood, Fir-tree, Wild Pine
Tincture of the leaves and young twigs.
Plantae; Spermatophyta, Gymnospermae; Coniferopsida - Conifers; Coniferales; Pinaceae - Pine Family
Proved and introduced by Demeures in 1853
Description of the substance
The Scotch Pine is on of Britain's three native needle-leaved evergreens, along with Juniper and Yew.
The silver fir was introduced from Northern Europe in 1603.
Pine is a straight,tall tree, reaching heights of 100 feet (30 metres) nad girths of 10 - 15 feet (3-4 metres), its size dependent on the condition of the soil in which it grows. Pine is easier to grow and transplant than any other cone- tree, growing 20 feet 96 metres) in 40 years. It reaches ages of 600 years. Its strong tap root helps it withstand high winds, and its beautiful colouring is best seen amongst the heather and bracken of moor and highland. In naturally formed woodland, pine trees grow wide apart and let in light, creating atmospheric glades with magical depths.
Pine forms pairs of leaves and this distinguishes it from yew and spruce, which have leaves set singly in spirals on the branch, and from larch which has leaves in groups.
As pine saplings grow, their lower branches fall away to give rise to the characteristic straight trunk which is topped by a glorious crown of branches, needles and cones. If a pine tree is well situated in a bright open space it will begin reproduction after 20 years. If the tree is on damp ground or hemmed in by others, it will not begin reproduction until it is 40 years old.
Pine bark is a beautiful warm coppery red in colour, particularly at the top of the tree, where it is thin, smooth and shiny. At the base of the tree it can become thick, dark and rough.
In the yearly growth of pine each new shoot is in the form of a vertical candle. At the end of each twig grows a large resinous bud wrapped in thin pinky-brown paper scales covered with whitish resin. In the spring this bud lengthens and the brown scales peel off one by one to reveal pairs of leaves, or needles, rising from an axis. Branches grow from buds set in a circle below this.
Pine needles are stiff, flat on the top and circular below. They vary in length from two to three and a half inches, and are formed in pairs with their bases enclosed in a membranous sheath. They have a bluish bloom which gives the tree a touch of mistiness when seen from a distance. This coat of blue is formed by a layer of wax which grows over the natural green foliage. The pine holds these leaves on the tree for three years and then casts them off, still in pairs and held at the base by a scaly sheath. New needles are bright green and turn steel blue in a season. That pine has leaves in the form of needles enables the tree to conserve and limit its water loss. This means it is not reliant on moisture held in the soil and can thus grow in sandy soils.
In early spring the pine produces two kinds of single-sexed flowers. The male flowers are soft yellow fluffy knobs, clustering around the base of the season's new shoot of growth. Each flower is made up of a number of stamens set in a spiral and each stamen has two overflowing pollen sacs. The pollen of pine trees is extremely plentiful. In certain districts it is called "sulphur showers", for when released everything in the neighbourhood gets covered in yellow dust. Each grain of pollen has an air sac on each side to help keep it airborne. As soon as all the pollen is released by the male flowers they die away and fall off the tree.
The female flower is a tiny red bud-like object by the tip of the new spring shoot. It is made up of spirally arranged red fleshy scales, each with a sharp point. It is set on a pedestal and looks like a baby cone flanked by brown scales, tilting upwards so that pollen can slip between the scales to the ovules at the base. These ovules emit a mucilaginous substance which catches and draws down the pollen. The scalesof the female flowers then thicken at their tips and join together, selaed by resin.
By next spring this little flower-cone is bigger and pendulous and stands some distance away from the tip of that years newly grown shot. Towards the end of of its second summer, or even the spring after that, the cone scales crack open with the warmth of the air and the little brown seeds are revealed. These seeds have a delicate wing, and when loosened by the wind they fall from the cone and are caught on the air. They spin away to their destined places, soem quite near the parent tree and others long distances away.
Pine cones open and close as the weather changes from dry to wet, not in advance of the change. They open only when it is dry so the wind borne seeds have a chance to scatter and not drop wet to the trees base. In autumn the empty cones fall from the branches, some two and a half years old. Three generations of cone can be found on a pine tree at any given time, sometimes all on a single branch, where new cones, fertilized and sealed cones, and empty cones stand one behind the other.
Scots pines are the most popular Christmas trees; their graceful, symmetrical shape occupies the place of honour of millions of homes each December. They are also considered one of the most picturesque pine trees.
"The thickest Swedish pine has a girth of 4.49 m and is growing at Strängsered in Ulricehamn" (Anonymous [no date]). The tallest specimens, up to 45-50 m high, occur along the S coast of the Baltic Sea (Vladimir Dinets e-mail 10-Jan-1998). The stoutest in the UK is 169 cm dbh, at Belladrum, Scottish Highlands (A.F. Mitchell).
"The oldest Swedish pine tree is growing in Muddus National Park. It is at least 711 years old. Researchers have found that the pine has survived forest fires in the years of 1413, 1507, 1596 and 1771 ... The oldest tree harvested in Sweden was 654 years old when it was felled in 1913 at Svärdsjö, Dalarna" (Anonymous [no date]). These data suggest a fire history study, thus a relatively reliable minimum age, for the 711 year tree; the 654 year tree is likely a ring count.