The Gymnosperm Database


Trees of var. eldarica at the Los Angeles City and County Arboretum, CA [C.J. Earle, 2009.12.06].


Twig and foliage of var. eldarica at the Los Angeles City and County Arboretum, CA [C.J. Earle, 2009.12.06].


Maturing, mature, and old open cones of var. eldarica at the Los Angeles City and County Arboretum, CA [C.J. Earle, 2009.12.06].


Bark of var. eldarica at the Los Angeles City and County Arboretum, CA [C.J. Earle, 2009.12.06].


Cone of var. brutia at Quail Botanical Garden, CA [C.J. Earle, 2004.04.06].


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Conservation status

Pinus brutia

Tenore 1811

Common names

Kızılçam [Turkish]; Τραχεία πεύκη [Greek]; Eldar şamı [Azerbaijani]; Сосна пицундская [Russian]; Calabrian pine. 'Calabrian' is the most common English name, but the species is not native there (Frankis 1993), a situation rather like that of Norway pine (native to the U.S. and Canada) or cedar of Goa (native to Mexico). The Turkish name means 'red pine' which, as far as I can tell, is the most common name for a pine in the world, applied to a host of different species.

Taxonomic notes

Syn: P. halepensis var. brutia (Ten.) Elwes et Henry; P. halepensis subsp. brutia (Tenore) Holmboe; P. persica Strangw.

Four varieties (besides the type) (Frankis 1993):

V. Dinets (e-mail 1998.01.12) reports one other variety, var. sogdaianus, of uncertain validity; see Remarks.

P. brutia forms natural hybrids with its close congener Pinus halepensis where the two species are sympatric in Turkey, with matings successful only when P. halepensis is the pollen donor and P. brutia is the female parent (but not reciprocally); thus P. brutia populations are introgressed by P. halepensis (Bucci et al. 1998).

A variety of studies have looked at the relationships between P. halepensis, P. brutia and P. brutia var. eldarica. These taxa have often been placed in their own subsection, Halepenses, and var. eldarica is widely treated as a distinct species by persons living within its native range. Needle monoterpene profiles show negligible differences between var. brutia and var. eldarica, but substantial differences from P. halepensis (Michelozzi et al. 2008). Conversely, needle flavonoids show substantial differences between all three taxa, with the greatest differences measured between var. brutia and var. eldarica (Kaundun et al. 1997)! Bucci et al. (1998) studied chloroplast genetic markers (single-sequence repeats) and found that all three taxa have unusually high haplotypic variation and genetic divergence, which is not too surprising in a taxon that occupies a broad geographic and elevational range.


"The Turkish pine is a tree to 27-35 m, with a usually open crown of irregular branches. The bark on the lower trunk is thick, scaly, fissured, patterned red-brown and buff, and thin, flaky and orange-red higher in the crown. The shoots are slender, 3-7 mm thick, grey-buff, and rough with persistent small decurrent scale-leaf bases. The winter buds are ovoid-acute, with red-brown scales with long free tips revolute and fringed with white hairs. The adult leaves are retained for 1.5-2.5 years, with a persistent 1-1.5 cm sheath; on most trees they are in fascicles of two, and 10-18 cm long. They are bright green to yellow-green, slender, about 1mm thick, with serrulate margins, fine lines of stomata on both faces, and several marginal resin canals. The juvenile leaves are glaucous, 1.5-4 cm long, and continue to be grown for 2-4 years, mixed with the first adult foliage produced from 9 months from seed. The cones are erect to forward pointing on short stout stalks, symmetrical, broad conic, (4-)6-10(-12) cm long, 4-5 cm broad when closed, green, ripening shiny red-brown in April two years after pollination. They open the same summer or 1-2 years later, to 5-8 cm broad, though the seeds are often not shed till winter rain softens the scales. The scales are short, broad, thick, woody, and very stiff; the apophysis is 10-15 x 15-20 mm, smoothly rounded, with a slight to moderate transverse ridge; the umbo is dorsal, flat to slightly raised, 5-7mm wide, and grey-buff. The seeds are grey-brown, 7-8 × 5mm with a broad, auricled 15-20 × 10 mm wing, yellow-buff streaked darker brown" (Frankis 1993).

Occasional trees can be found with many of their leaves in fascicles of three, and some others show cone scale morphology closely resembling that of P. canariensis (Frankis 1993).

The vars. pityusa and stankewiczii differ very little from the type in morphology, but showed differences in electrophoretic tests (Conkle et al. 1988). Var. pendulifolia differs in having markedly longer leaves, 20-29 cm long, which because of their length are pendulous (Frankis 1993). Var. eldarica has shorter, stouter leaves 8-13 cm long, slightly smaller cones and slightly larger seeds, and is adapted to a different climatic regime (Frankis 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

Primarily in Turkey and far E Greece, secondarily in the Crimea, Caucasus coast, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Crete and Cyprus; primarily near coasts, in areas with a strongly Mediterranean climate. It grows at 0-1525 m elevation, below the other indigenous pines of the area, P. nigra Arnold var. caramanica (Loudon) Rehder and P. sylvestris L. var. hamata Steven (Frankis 1993). Hardy to Zone 7 (cold hardiness limit between -17.7°C and -12.2°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

The species forms extensive, fairly open stands of pure composition, or with Cupressus sempervirens and Juniperus excelsa. It also forms pine-oak woodlands with drought-tolerant species including Quercus coccifera, Q. calliprinos, and Pistacio lentiscus. Natural regeneration is mostly by windblown seed dispersal after fire (Farjon 2010).

The type occurs in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Crete, eastern Aegean islands, and possibly the extreme NE of the Greek mainland.

Var. pendulifolia occurs scattered in southwest Turkey mixed with the type (Frankis 1993). Var. pityusa is found in a few isolated stands near Pitsunda on the eastern Black Sea coast in Russia and Georgia (Frankis 1993, Vladimir Dinets e-mail 1998.01.12); its conservation status is described by the IUCN as "vulnerable." Var. stankewiczii occurs in the Crimea at 200-1000 m (Frankis 1993, Vladimir Dinets e-mail 1998.01.12). Subsp. eldarica occurs in Azerbaijan: "naturally found in one small stand [but] grown all across Central Asia due to its tolerance to aridity, unique among Palearctic pines", and commonly naturalised or possibly wild east through Iran and Afghanistan to Pakistan (Frankis 1993, Vladimir Dinets e-mail 1998.01.12).

Big tree

One in the Hermon Mts., Israel, is 35 m tall; taller trees may occur in Turkey. One at Kemer, near Fethiye, SW Turkey, is 2.1 m dbh (H. Karaca measurement, in litt. to M.P. Frankis, 1994). The largest representative of var. pityusa is in Pitsunda Nat. Res., Abkhazia. Largest specimen of var. stankewiczii is on Roman-Kosh Mt. (Vladimir Dinets e-mail 1998.01.12).




Known as 'pitys' to the ancient Greeks, this is the most important forest tree in the north-eastern Mediterranean area. A sap-sucking insect Marchalina hellenica produces large amounts of honey-dew, harvested by honeybees and sold as 'pine honey'. Pinus brutia was planted outside its native range in Greece from early times for this harvest (G. Schiller, 1993, pers. comm. to M.P. Frankis).



The species was early introduced to the Italian province of Calabria (in Roman times: Brutia, the origin of the specific epithet) (Farjon 1984).

Some trees have cones which do not open widely even after prolonged weathering, so the seeds are incapable of normal wind dispersal. This form is probably dispersed by Krüper's Nuthatch Sitta krueperi (Frankis 1992).

Var. sogdaianus is restricted to a few small stands on Crimea S coast near Sudak (Vladimir Dinets e-mail 1998.01.12); the validity of this variety is doubtful.


Bucci, G., M. Anzidei, A. Madaghiele, and G. G. Vendramin. 1998. Detection of haplotypic variation and natural hybridization in halepensis‐complex pine species using chloroplast simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. Molecular Ecology 7:1633-1643.

Conkle, M. T., G. Schiller & C. Grunwald. 1988. Electrophoretic analysis of diversity and phylogeny of Pinus brutia and closely related taxa. Systematic Botany 13: 411-424.

Frankis, M.P. 1992. Krüper's Nuthatch Sitta krueperi and Turkish Pine Pinus brutia: an evolving association? Sandgrouse 13: 92-97.

Frankis, M. P. 1993. Morphology and affinities of Pinus brutia. Pp. 11-18 in O. Tashkin (ed.) Papers International Symposium Pinus brutia. Marmaris / Ankara.

Kaundun, S. S., B. Fady, and P. Lebreton. 1997. Genetic differences between Pinus halepensis, Pinus brutia and Pinus eldarica based on needle flavonoids. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 25(6):553-562.

Michelozzi, M., R. Tognetti, F. Maggino and M. Radicati. 2008. Seasonal variations in monoterpene profiles and ecophysiological traits in Mediterranean pine species of group “halepensis”. iForest-Biogeosciences and Forestry 1:65-74. Available, accessed 2013.11.25.

Tenore, M. 1811. Flora Napolitana 1: 57.

See also

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

Caraglio, Yves. [no date]. Mediterranean Pines and Cedars. (accessed 2006.11.01). This page describes the "Morphology and architecture of Pinus brutia."

Ali Kavgaci, Urban Šilc, Saime BaŞaran, Aleksander MarinŠek, Mehmet Ali BaŞaran, Petra KoŠir, Neslihan Balpinar, Münevver Arslan, Özge Denli, and Andraž Čarni. 2017. Classification of plant communities along postfire succession in Pinus brutia (Turkish red pine) stands in Antalya (Turkey). Turkish Journal of Botany 41:299-307. Available, accessed 2017.09.04.

Last Modified 2017-12-29