The Gymnosperm Database


Tree in Sierra Nevada National Park, Spain, elevation 2300 m [Jose Angel Campos Sandoval].


Foliage, pollen cones, immature seed cone, and mature seed cone on a tree in Sierra Nevada National Park, Spain [Jose Angel Campos Sandoval].


Detail of seed cones from a tree in Sierra Nevada National Park, Spain [Jose Angel Campos Sandoval].

Another good photo of P. uncinata cones can be seen HERE.


Distribution of var. mugo (in red) and var. uncinata (in green) (distribution data from Barbéro et al., in Richardson (1998)).


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Conservation status

Pinus mugo subsp. uncinata

(Ramond) Domin 1935

Common names

Mountain pine, Spirke (Businský 1998), Swiss mountain pine [English], pin à crochets [French], pino negro [Spanish].

Taxonomic notes

Syn: P. uncinata Ramond ex De Candolle 1805; P. mugo var. rostrata (Antoine) Hoopes (Christensen 1987). It is often treated as a vicariant species separate from P. mugo (Barbéro et al. 1998, Businský 1998).


A tree to 12-20 m tall and 0.5-1 m dbh, with a straight, erect trunk and an ovoid-conic crown. Bark ash-gray-brown to blackish-grey, splitting in angular scaly plates, thick at base of trunk. Shoots uninodal, glabrous, greyish-black to deep red-brown grooved between the decurrent scale-leaves. Buds ovoid-conic, 6-9 mm, red-brown, very resinous. Leaves in fascicles of two (rarely three around apical bud of strong shoots), bright to dark green, often with a greyish tinge, straight to slightly twisted, minutely serrulate, 23-75 mm long, 0.9-2.1 mm wide, leaf sheath persistent, grey, 15-18 mm. Leaves persistent (2-)4-9(-10) years. Plants usually monoecious, rarely subdioecious. Male cones 10 mm, yellow or red, pollen shed May to July. Female cones purple ripening shiny dark brown in late September to October 15-17 months later and opening then or the following spring; sessile or nearly so, strongly asymmetrical, 25-60 mm long, 20-40 mm wide (closed), opening to x 30-50 mm, deflexed down stem with angle of inclination to stem 110°-160°; apophyses thick, strongly pyramidal on outer side of cone, still thickened and pyramidal on inner side but not strongly so, stiff, inflexible, 6-10 mm wide, outer scale apophyses 4-9 mm thick, inner apophyses 3-4 mm thick; umbo at apex of apophyses, 3-4 mm wide, often with a pronounced 1 mm prickle. Seed black, 3-4 mm with a 7-12 mm wing buff with darker streaks; cotyledons (3-)5-7(-8). Cones shed soon after seed release or up to a year or two later. (Christensen. 1987; note foliage characters identical to subsp. mugo, the taxa being separable only on habit and cone characters).

Distribution and Ecology

Europe: Sierra de Gúdar, Sierra Cebollera, Pyrenees, Massif Central, and the western Alps, overlapping widely with subsp. mugo in E Switzerland and W Austria, with outliers as far northeast as the Böhmerwald and the Erzgebirge (E Germany), but absent from SE Europe. A high altitude species, occurring mostly at 1000-2300 m, occasionally as low as 200 m in frost hollows and peat bog habitats in the NE of its range in E Germany (Christensen 1987). USDA hardiness zone 5. The isolated central French population was introduced in the 19th century, and it has been widely planted through Mediterranean and northern Europe in reforestation programs (Christensen 1987, Barbéro et al. 1998).

Big tree



Early work was done by Genova (1986). Further work can be located at the Bibliography of Dendrochronology.




The French name Pin à crochets ('pine with hooks') refers to the hooked apophyses of the cones.

Locally naturalised in several areas of N Europe.


Barbéro et al., Chapter 8 in Richardson 1998.

Businský, R. 1998. Pinus mugo agg. in former Czechoslovakia - taxonomy, distribution, hybrid populations and endangering. Zprávy Ces. Bot. Spolec. Praha 33: 29-52. [in Czech; English summary].

Christensen, K.I. 1987. Taxonomic revision of the Pinus mugo complex and P. × rhaetica (P. mugo × sylvestris) (Pinaceae). Nordic J. Botany 7: 383-408.

Genova, R. 1986. Dendroclimatology of mountain pine (Pinus uncinata Ram.) in the central plain of Spain. Tree-Ring Bulletin 46:3-12. Available online at (accessed 2006.06.05).

This page prepared with the assistance of M.P. Frankis, 1999.02.28.

See also

Last Modified 2017-12-29