Pine Primer for the San Gabriel Mountains


Pines are recognized by their evergreen, long, round, and thin needle-like leaves found in bundles wrapped in a papery sheath or sleeve.

These are the pine tree species native to the San Gabriel Mountains. If you find a pine that does not fit anything in the key or descriptions, chances are you found it along a paved road, or at a camp or picnic ground and the tree has been planted by the US Forest Service.

Bark texture and color change with age; texture is smooth and color is light when young, aging to rough, scaly and furrowed in texture and darker in color when old.

The number of records is an rough indicator of frequency. You are almost sure to see those with the largest number of observation records. Those with few records, in this case, are difficult to get to!

In the key below, remember that the leaves are needle-like.


1. Is there only one leaf in the bundle?

2. Are there two leaves in the bundle?

3. Are there three leaves in the bundle? 5. Are the leaves less than 2" in length and in dense tufts near the ends of the branches?


Pinus contorta subspecies murrayana

Pinus coulteri

Pinus flexilis

Pinus jeffreyi

Pinus lambertiana

Pinus monophylla

Pinus ponderosa

Pinus sabiniana

Sources and Other Information

CalFlora Occurrence Database. A search for Pinus in Los Angeles County yielded 120 observation records for the San Gabriel Mountains.

Conifers of California by Ronald M. Lanner. Cachuma Press, 1999.

Native Conifers of North America - California Conifers by Nearctica

A California Flora by Philip A. Munz. University of California Press, 1968.

Roadside Plants of Southern California by Thomas J. Belzer. Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1984.

Sierra Nevada Natural History by Tracy I. Storer and Robert L. Usinger. University of California Press, 1963.

Go to Keys to Identifying Selected Plant Groups in the SGM

Copyright © 2000-2009 by Jane Strong and Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to us at this source:
Comments and feedback: Jane Strong | Tom Chester
Updated 11 December 2001; (correction to Coulter pine needle length comment made on 20 October 2009).