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Pinus cembra - Swiss Stone Pine

Range:Europe - Alps, running north to Russia and Siberia.
Pinus cembra (Swiss Stone Pine) is a Tree which grows to a height of 15m and a width of 6m . It has a slow growth rate. It has a hardness rating of 4.
Swiss Stone Pine will flower in November to December. the seeds ripen from March
The flowers from this plant are monoecious (both sexes are found on the plant but each flower is either male or female) and they are pollinated by Wind

Soil Information

Swiss Stone Pine will grow in light (sandy),medium (loamy),hard (clay) soil. It is / is important for the soil to be well drained.
The soil prefers the following PH / acid levels :
- pH of less than 6, Acidic soils
- pH between 6 and 8, Neutral soils
Swiss Stone Pine prefers either dry or moist soils

Ideal Planting Locations

Swiss Stone Pine can grow in semi or areas with no shade.

Rarely found below elevations of 1500 metres, it grows with larch up to the tree line[11, 81].

Planting places suited to this plant described below.

Cultivation Details

Thrives in a light well-drained sandy or gravelly loam[1]. Dislikes poorly drained moorland soils[1]. Established plants tolerate drought[200]. Succeeds in most situations, flourishing on N. facing slopes and in moist heavy clay soils[81]. Grows best in the cooler wetter areas of Britain[11, 81]. A very hardy plant tolerating temperatures down to about -30c[160]. The edible seeds are collected in large numbers in Siberia and are often exported[142]. (This report probably refers to the sub-species P. cembra sibirica.) This species does not appear to be long lived or to produce its cones freely in S. Britain[11]. It does not produce cones until it is 30 years old[200]. The cones take three years to ripen and then fall from the tree with the seeds still inside[120]. The seed is often eaten by squirrels etc before it can fall to the ground. The cones do not open, seed is extracted by breaking up the soft scales of the cone[200]. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly[200]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus[200]. Slow growing in cultivation[81, 120], plants usually make less than 30 cm increase in height per year even when young[185]. Leaf secretions inhibit the germination of seeds, thereby inhibiting the growth of other plants below the tree[18]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200].

Edible Uses*

* See disclaimer
Edible Rating: 4/5
Seed - raw or cooked[1, 2, 4, 34, 177, 183]. Much valued as a food, the oil-rich seed has a delicious flavour but with a slight flavour of turpentine. A reasonable size, it is about 10mm x 8 mm[200]. An edible drying oil is obtained from the seed[2, 57, 63, 183]. A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood[200].

Medicinal Uses*

* See disclaimer
Medicinal Rating: 2/5
The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge[4]. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections[4]. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB[4]. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers[4].


It is best to sow the seed in individual pots in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if this is possible otherwise in late winter. A short stratification of 6 weeks at 4c can improve the germination of stored seed[80]. Plant seedlings out into their permanent positions as soon as possible and protect them for their first winter or two[11]. Plants have a very sparse root system and the sooner they are planted into their permanent positions the better they will grow[K]. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm[200]. We actually plant them out when they are about 5 - 10cm tall. So long as they are given a very good weed-excluding mulch they establish very well[K]. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance[200]. Cuttings. This method only works when taken from very young trees less than 10 years old. Use single leaf fascicles with the base of the short shoot. Disbudding the shoots some weeks before taking the cuttings can help. Cuttings are normally slow to grow away[81].

Known Hazards

The wood, sawdust and resins from various species of pine can cause dermatitis in sensitive people[222].

Other Uses

A tan or green dye is obtained from the needles[168]. The needles contain a substance called terpene, this is released when rain washes over the needles and it has a negative effect on the germination of some plants, including wheat[201]. Turpentine is obtained from the leaves[46, 61]. Oleo-resins are present in the tissues of all species of pines, but these are often not present in sufficient quantity to make their extraction economically worthwhile[64]. The resins are obtained by tapping the trunk, or by destructive distillation of the wood[4, 64]. In general, trees from warmer areas of distribution give the higher yields[64]. Turpentine consists of an average of 20% of the oleo-resin[64] and is separated by distillation[4, 64]. Turpentine has a wide range of uses including as a solvent for waxes etc, for making varnish, medicinal etc[4]. Rosin is the substance left after turpentine is removed. This is used by violinists on their bows and also in making sealing wax, varnish etc[4]. Pitch can also be obtained from the resin and is used for waterproofing, as a wood preservative etc. Wood - soft, easily worked. Used for furniture, turnery etc[46, 61, 100].


no recorded cultivars


Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Bean. W.
Author: Bean. W.
Publisher : A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
Date of Publication : 1981

The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Huxley. A.
Author: Huxley. A.
Publisher : Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
Date of Publication : 1992

DISCLAIMER: All information published on is for entertainment purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained here with other sources. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by doctors or dietary advice by dieticians. will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising therefrom.