Teocotl [Nahuatl]. A common Mexican Spanish name for pines in general, ocote, is derived from this name. English names include Aztec pine (hort.) and teocote pine.
One of about 23 species in subsection Australes. The type specimen was collected by Schiede and Deppe on the slopes of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's highest peak.
Evergreen trees to 25 m tall and 75 cm dbh, usually with a single, fairly straight trunk and a pyramidal to rounded crown of horizontally spreading branches with slightly drooping terminal foliar units. Bark dark gray-brown, rough, scaly, thick, longitudinally fissured. Twigs smooth, orange-brown. Leaves in fascicles of 3 with a persistent sheath initially 20 mm long, wearing down over time, light green, persisting 2-3 years, slightly stiff (not drooping), straight or slightly curved, 1-1.4 mm thick, 10-15 cm long, sharp-pointed, with stomata on all faces. Pollen cones ovoid-oblong, 5 × 10-18 mm, yellow-green. Seed cones numerous, remaining several years after maturity, ovoid with a broad, flattened base when open, variably asymmetrical, 4-6 × 2-2.5 cm when open. Seed scales woody, thick, with a more or less flat light brown apophysis and dorsal, blunt pyramidal umbo with a tiny, deciduous prickle. Seeds dark brown, 3-5 mm long with a translucent 12-18 mm wing (Farjon 2010, pers. obs. in field).
Mexico: Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Hidalgo, Michoacan, Mexico, Distrito Federal, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Veracruz, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas; Guatemala (Farjon and Styles 1997). As such it is one of the most widespread Central American pines. Hardy to Zone 8 (cold hardiness limit between -12.1°C and -6.7°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001). See also Thompson et al. (1999).
Occurs at 1000-3300 m elevation, often on thin and sometimes calcareous soils, usually with 500-1000 mm annual precipitation, frost uncommon. With its extensive range, it occurs in quite a variety of habitats, but usually with Quercus spp. in woodland or open forest, and with a variety of pines such as P. arizonica, P. engelmannii, P. durangensis, P. leiophylla, P. montezumae, P. oocarpa, and P. patula (Farjon 2010).
Although this species is in principle widely distributed, I have found it to be uncommon in much of its range, becoming a dominant forest component only on the Transverse Volcanic Plateau and north of there along the Sierra Madre Oriental. It can be found easily near the town of San Miguel in San Luis Potosí (see photos at left), where it grows in the company of fine examples of Pinus montezumae and P. greggii var australis (the latter being very limited in its distribution).
This species is a principal host for the dwarf mistletoes Arceuthobium globosum subsp. grandicaule (in southern Mexico), Arceuthobium rubrum (in Durango and Sinaloa), and A. nigrum, the latter having been described from a collection on this species 51 km E of El Salto on highway 40, the Durango-Mazatlan highway (Hawksworth and Wiens 1996). See the "Remarks" in Abies durangensis for a relevant story.
Last Modified 2012-11-23