Swiss Stone Pine (Pinus cembra)
Also called Arolla Pine, the Swiss Stone Pine is a very slow growing tree with dense, dark green soft needles making it a good choice for small as well as larger yards. The branches are short and spreading; giving the tree a narrow, dense pyramid shape when young, becoming open and round topped with age. Swiss Stone Pine is native to Europe. It is a compact plant that naturally branches to the ground. The needles are 2 to 3 inches long and very soft to the touch. The needles are so soft that they're actually a joy to touch, and even dry needles on the ground pose no threat to bare feet.
Swiss Stone Pines are very hardy trees, withstanding extreme weather conditions quite well. Although this tree will grow in heavy clays, it will do equally as well in sandy to loam type of soil as well. As I mentioned earlier, this is the only pine tree found in the home landscape that produces edible pine nuts. The cones take three years to mature, but each year new cones are formed, insuring a continuous crop of pine nuts once they reach bearing age which is usually 8 to 10 years.
Swiss Stone Pine Choices
Chalet is a slow-growing form that becomes a dense tree with a narrow cone and bluish-green foliage. Glauca has bluish foliage. Nana is a dense plant with a pyramidal habit and a slow growth rate when young.