Bishop pine (Pinus muricata) grows down the California coast scattered here and there but always close to the ocean. A pine tree with many different looks - from a small twisted and contorted tree to one growing straight up to 25 m/75 ft.
We have two Bishop pine trees in VanDusen. They have been there since 1974 and are both waiting for a fire. This is what they need to open their cones and release their seeds. Their cones are sealed with resin and attached to branches. Most pine species have cones that mature annually and release their seed in fall. But not the Bishop pine. It hangs on to its closed cones waiting for fire. The wait can be long. Although the tree usually dies in the fire, many new trees soon sprout, recolonizing the area faster than the other tree species.
Throughout tree history, Bishop pine has appeared and disappeared. Today IUCN lists Bishop pine as Vulnerable (VU). This means it is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. And a fungus called pitch canker is the main reason. Our two Bishop pine trees won’t get this fungus, and hopefully they won’t die by fire. Their lifespan is around 70 years. They will probably just slowly deteriorate with age. More information.
The pictures were taken in the Heather Garden near the Gazebo in bed 56. For the pictures with several trees, the Bishop pine is the one on the left.
Text and photos by Hughie Jones