Scotch Pine : Overview

Scotch pine tree

A semi-mature Scotch pine tree located on the University of Vermont campus (Mary Petronio, 2014). 

By Mary Petronio

The Scotch pine is the most widely distributed pine in the world, and is often the tree that people envision when they think of the genus Pinus. As Laura Mason states,  “it is Linnaeus’ Pinus sylvestris, meaning ‘the pine of the woods’...that Northern Europeans think of as the archetypal pine tree” (Mason, 2013, p. 9).  This tall, skinny tree is such an iconic image that in 2013 the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee proposed on behalf of Alex Hamilton that the Forestry Commission Scotland Committee and the Scottish Natural Heritage Committee consider designating it as the official tree of Scotland. The petition cites both the cultural and practical significance of the tree, including its sacred designation by the ancient Gaelic and its many commercial uses today (Forestry Commission Scotland, 2013). The petition was approved in 2014, and the Scotch pine is now the official tree of Scotland. It has also spread far beyond Scotland, and can now be found in locales as diverse as Canada, northern Asia, France, Scandinavia, and Czechoslovakia.