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Woody > Pinus > Pinus ayacahuite > Pinus ayacahuite

Pinus ayacahuite

Mexican White Pine

Origin:  Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
            Mike's Opinion

this is Mike


The Mexican white pine is a giant conifer of the rainy mountains and valleys of Mexico and a few central American countries. The species name has Aztec origins relating to its habitat and structure, ayauhquahuitl, meaning "cloud tree". It is a super-canopy tree often growing above other pines in its habitat. It is hardy, yet can also withstand drought as well as poor nutrition. P. ayacahuite may hybridize with a few other pines including P. strobiformis and P. flexilis.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


Tree (evergreen)
USDA Hardiness Zone
Canadian Hardiness Zone
RHS Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
Temperature (°F)
30-55 m
5-7 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
A tall mountainous evergreen tree with five waxy greenish needles per fascicle.
Woodland gardens, screening or shade.
Cool, relatively rich, deep, well-drained montane (sandy to loamy) acidic to neutral soil in full sun. Tolerant of poor nutrition and drought conditions.
Conical crown when young which flattens at the top with age. Nearly horizontal, sparse branches in whorls.
ID Characteristic
A pine with five needles per fascicle and a tall, flat-topped, sparse branched crown resembling that of P. strobus. The most distinguishable attributes of the two would be their respective habitat and range.
White pine cone beetle (Conophthorus ponderosa) can cause considerable damage to second year cones, possibly wiping out 100% of them. The Mexican white pine is moderately resistant to white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola).
Rainy mountainous slopes and valleys with loamy, well-drained soil between an elevation of 1524 - 3658 m.
Bark/Stem Description
Young branchlets usually covered with a minute grey-brown down or hairless. Young bark grey-green and smooth becoming shallowly furrowed and red-brown with maturity.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
Somewhat resinous and roughly 6-12 mm long. Terminal buds, scaled with loose tapered tips, approximately 1 cm in length.
Leaf Description
Five needles per fascicle, 8-20 cm in length. Soft, very slender and straight yet yielding. Three-sided with bluish to greyish green and waxy. Needles drop off every 2-3 years.
Flower Description
Pollen cones yellow-brown, 7-15 mm long at the end of new growth. Seed cones almost straight in form to clearly curved tapered cylinders, 10-50 cm long. Seed cones green becoming light brown as they mature with 100-150 seed scales. Both sexual structures are found on the same plant.
Fruit Description
Before unfurling, cones are 15-30 cm long tapered, slightly curved cylinders. Cones come in twos or threes and are pendulous with a short stalk. Seed scales are tan with dark spots in a thin diamond form, slightly to severely bent back tipped with a slim diamond-shaped umbo. The seed itself is 8-15 mm long with a 10-30 mm long wing.
Colour Description
Grey-green young bark and red-brown mature bark. Foliage is blue-green to grey-green. Pollen cones appear yellow-brown and seed cones start as green turning light brown as they develop. The hue of the seed scales is tan with speckles of black. Mexican white pine wood is cream-white.
Texture Description
Like most if not all pines, this species is coarsely textured from its foliage to its bark at maturity which is shallowly furrowed.
Notable Specimens
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom. The Royal Horticultural Society Pinetum, Wisley, Surrey, United Kingdom.
Seed stratified in a cold frame and nursery grown for a year. May also be propagated by cuttings from trees under 10 years old using a single leaf fascicle along with a short shoot base. Water generously.
Ethnobotanical Uses (Disclaimer)
Timber, possible source of amber, seeds as food, a vanilla flavouring, dye, resin and herbicide.
J. E. Eckenwalder. (2009). Conifers of the World. Timber Press, Inc. International Union of Forestry Research Organizations. (1972). Biology of rust resistance in forest trees : Proceedings of a NATO-IUFRO Advanced Study Institute, August 17-24, 1969. Washington, D.C. : Forest Service.