Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)
The Austrian Pine, also known as Black Pine, is rapidly becoming an important plant in our landscape due to its attractive pyramidal form and striking dark green foliage. The interesting bark; stout, whorled branches; and picturesque habit make this a good tree for specimen planting alone or in groups. It is hardy as far north as southern Ontario and New England and grows well in sand, loam, or clay soils. As a functional tree, it makes an excellent wind break that can withstand wind and heavy snow. Some have reported good tolerance to ice storms and salt injury.
In youth, Austrian Pine has its limbs and foliage drape completely to the ground, but at maturity, its lower limbs are usually absent, and thus its trunk is exposed to continuous sunlight. The tree has attractive, coarse, deep-cinnamon-colored bark of irregular plates with distinctive deep fissures, making it one of the handsomest pines for bark. In addition, its crown becomes spreading and open, rather than dense and tightly pyramidal. In open situations, Austrian Pine may grow to 60 feet tall by 40 feet wide, with a medium growth rate.
Austrian Pine has dark green needles that occur as two per bundle. The needles tend to be tufted on the ends of the branches, making the tree somewhat open internally. These six-inch long, thick, stiff needles persist between four and eight years on the tree, giving this pine tree an extremely dense and bold-textured appearance. At maturity, the brown cones are about three inches long, and have small prickles on the backside of their scales. They spread their scales to release their seeds, and remain on the tree for several years.
Austrian Pine Choices
The most commonly planted variety is Austriaca, the typical form of the species. It grows to 60-80 feet or more in height with thick branches sweeping horizontally and up as they spread from the trunk. Cebennensis grows to about 60 feet in height. Its most distinguishing features are orange colored branchlets and slender 1/16 inch diameter needles. Hornibrookiana is a very compact, rounded bush with stiff lustrous dark green needles that grow to no more than 2.5 inches long. A 30-year-old plant will be about 2 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Pyramidalis is a narrow, pyramidal shaped tree with closely ascending branches and 4 to 5 inch-long bluish-green needles. Frank is a wide plant that grows more slowly than Hornibrookiana. Jeddeloh has needles that are longer and darker green than the species. Arnold Sentinal is a columnar selection from the Arnold Arboretum. Obelisk has a narrow, columnar shape. Pierrick Bregeon is a dwarf cultivar, and Pyramidalis shows an upright form with a fast growth rate.