Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine Pinaceae Pinus
aristata Engelm. symbol: PIAR
Leaf: Evergreen needles, short (1 to 1 1/2 inches long), curved, fascicles of 5, dark green but usually covered with white dots of dried resin. Remain on tree for 10-17 years, giving a bushy appearance that resembles a fox's tail.
Flower: Species is monoecious; male cones small, dark orange and often clustered near the ends of branches; female cones occur singly or in pairs near the ends of branches.
Fruit: Moderate sized woody cone (about 3 inches long) with a short stalk; imbricate scales are thickened and tipped with a long bristle, giving rise to its common name; seeds are winged.
Twig: Orange-brown when young but darkening with age.
Bark: Young bark is thin, smooth, and gray-white later becoming furrowed and reddish brown. Old trees on harsh, windy sites may have only a few strands of bark remaining in crevices where it is protected from sandblasting winds.
Form: Typically small (may reach 50 feet) and contorted by the wind and harsh growing conditions, grows very slowly.
Looks like: Great Basin bristlecone pine - whitebark pine - sugar pine - limber pine
Additional Range Information: Pinus aristata is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See the full-size PDF map.
External Links: USDAFS FEIS Silvics - USDA Plants Database
All material © 2019 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson; Silvics reprinted from Ag Handbook 654; range map source information