Chinese White Pine

Chinese White Pine
Chinese White Pine
Red Crested Crane roosting on a Chinese White Pine
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Pinus
Subgenus: Strobus
Species: P. armandii
Binomial name
Pinus armandii
  • P. armandii var. amamiana (Koidz.) Hatus.
  • P. armandii var. farjonii Silba
  • P. armandii subsp. yuana Silba

The Chinese White Pine (Pinus armandii; family Pinaceae) is a species of pine native to China, occurring from southern Shanxi west to southern Gansu and south to Yunnan, with outlying populations in Anhui and Taiwan; it also extends a short distance into northern Myanmar[1]. It grows at 1,000-3,300 m altitude, with the lower altitudes mainly in the northern part of the range. It is a tree reaching 25–40 m height, with a trunk up to 1.5 m in diameter[citation needed].

It is a member of the white pine group, Pinus subgenus Strobus, and like all members of that group, the leaves ('needles') are in fascicles (bundles) of five, with a deciduous sheath. They are 8–20 cm long. The cones are 9–22 cm long and 6–8 cm broad, with stout, thick scales. The seeds are large, 10–16 mm long and have only a vestigial wing; they are dispersed by Spotted Nutcrackers. The cones mature in their second year, this is a juvenile female cone:

Pinus Armandii juvenile cone

The species has three varieties:

  • Pinus armandii var. armandii. All the range except for the populations below.
  • Pinus armandii var. dabeshanensis. The Dabie Shan mountains on the Anhui-Hubei border.
  • Pinus armandii var. mastersiana. Mountains of central Taiwan.

The varieties dabeshanensis and mastersiana are both listed as endangered.

Chinese White Pine has also been reported in the past from Hainan off the south coast of China, and two islands off southern Japan, but these pines differ in a number of features and are now treated as distinct species, Hainan White Pine Pinus fenzeliana and Yakushima White Pine Pinus amamiana respectively.



Chinese White Pine seeds are harvested and sold as pine nuts. These nuts are responsible for "Pine Mouth Syndrome"[2]. The wood is used for general building purposes; the species is important in forestry plantations in some parts of China. It is also grown as an ornamental tree in parks and large gardens in Europe and North America. The scientific name commemorates the French missionary and naturalist Armand David, who first introduced it to Europe.

In Chinese culture

The tree, on account of its evergreen foliage, is considered by the Chinese as an emblem of longevity and immortality. Its resin is considered an animated soul-substance, the counterpart of blood in men and animals. In ancient China, Taoist seekers of immortality consumed much of the tree’s resin, hoping thereby to prolong life. Legend says that Qiu Sheng (仇生) who lived at the time of King Chengtang of Shang (商成汤王) (reigned 1675-1646 BCE), founder of the Shang Dynasty, was indebted for his longevity to pine-resin.[3]. The Shouxing, Chinese God of Longevity (寿星), is usually represented standing at the foot of a pine, while a Fairy-crane perches on a branch of the tree. In traditional pictures of "happiness, honor and longevity", (福禄寿三星), the pine-tree represents longevity, in the same manner as the bat symbolizes good fortune due to its homonymic association with the Chinese character for good luck (福). A fungus, that the Chinese call Fu Ling grows on the root of the pine-tree, and is believed by the Chinese to suppress all sensations of hunger, cure various diseases, and lengthen life.[3]

See also

  • Conifer Specialist Group (1998). Pinus armandii. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.


  1. ^ Critchfield (1966). Geographic distribution of the pines of the world.. U.S.D.A. Forest Service Miscellaneous Publication 991. 
  2. ^ Destaillats F et al. (2011). "Identification of the Botanical Origin of Commercial Pine Nuts Responsible for Dysgeusia by Gas-Liquid Chromatography Analysis of Fatty Acid Profile". J Toxicol in press. 
  3. ^ a b De Groot, J.J.M. (2003). The Religious System of China. Vol. IV. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 9780766133549.  p. 297

External links

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