The Pinyon Pine tree is well known for its tasty seeds (pine nuts) that have been harvested by Native Americans for hundreds of years. It is sometimes called the Mexican Nut Pine. It is native to the Southern Rocky Mountain region and is the state tree of New Mexico.
The Pinyon Pine tree is smaller than other evergreens, standing only about 30 feet high with a trunk diameter of 2.5 feet. The bushy tree has a rounded crown and short trunk. The bark is reddish-brown. When burned, its wood emits a pleasant fragrance.
Needles are in bundles of two and measure about one to two inches long and are slightly curved and pointed at the tip. The needle colors range from vivid blue-green to yellow green. Needles remain on the tree from three to nine years.
When the tree blooms, they display yellow catkins which convert to cones that are about 1.5-2 inches and egg-shaped. Male cones appear in clusters of 20-40. They change color from dark red to purplish-red to yellow. Female cones stand alone and are purple. When they mature they change color and become tan.
The .5-.6 inch seeds appear in mid-August and take two seasons to ripen. They then drop from the tree and are harvested somewhere between September and November.
Pinyon Pine trees are slow growers and do well in wet clay, sandy, or loam soils. They do best in dry, warm and sunny climates. Hardness Zone: 4-8