About this Scots Pine
The Pinus sylvestris or Scots Pine is the national tree of Scotland, and the only pine native to northern Europe. This iconic species is an evergreen conifer, which can grow up to 25 m in height when mature.
In the UK, Pinus sylvestris only now occurs naturally in Scotland, as our national tree species. This tree was the basis of the incredibly diverse Caledonian forests, which once covered much of the Scottish Highlands, supporting thousands of species of plants and wildlife. However, cutting for timber, overgrazing, and even deliberate clearance to deter wolves have all been factors in the decline of these diverse pine forests.
Today, it is estimated that only 1% (around 17,000 ha) of this ancient forest habitat remains. The main surviving remnants in Scotland include Abernethy Forest and Glen Affric, which still provide habitat for some of Scotland’s rarest wildlife species, such as black grouse, capercaille and Scottish Wildcat.
The Scots Pine has a distinctive appearance due to its long, bare and straight trunk, which is topped by a rounded or flat-topped mass of lush foliage. It is readily identified by its fairly short, blue-green leaves and orange-bark. In the north of its range, it occurs from sea level to 1,000 m, while in the south of its range it is a high altitude mountain tree, growing at 1,200–2,600 m altitude. These trees can survive up to 300 years old, and the oldest recorded specimens exist in Sweden and Norway.
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