COMMON NAMES: AUSTRIAN PINE
BOTANICAL NAME: Pinus nigra
PRONUNCIATION: PIE-nus NI-gra
FAMILY: Pinaceae (Pine Family)
TYPE: Evergreen tree
HEIGHT: 30 to 60 feet
SPREAD: 20 to 30 feet
FINAL SPACING: 15 to 20 feet
NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE: Native to central and southern Europe and Asia.
IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION: Austrian Pine is a slow-growing, thickly foliaged pine tree. It keeps its foliage all the way to the ground unless pruned away. The thick branching creates a mounded appearance.
FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Female flowers are inconspicuous, male flowers or catkins are noticeable but nothing spectacular in the spring. Fruit is a light brown woody cone born singly or in clusters.
BARK: Medium to dark brown with a heavy texture.
FOLIAGE: Leaves are fairly short, stiff, dark green needles 3 to 6 inches long in bundles of 2. They tend to be curved or twisted and tufted at the end of the branches.
CULTURE: Austrian pine is an easy to grow pine tree in most of Texas, even in the black alkaline soils as long as the drainage is good. It responds well to fertilization and needs moderate amounts of water.
PROBLEMS: Occasionally chlorosis can be overcome using the Basic Organic Program or for severe problems the Sick Tree Treatment.
Austrian pine has resistance to pine tip moth but may occasionally get the pine twig blight. Soil treatment with whole ground cornmeal normally cures disease pests. According to Dr. Carl Whitcomb in his book Know It and Grow It, herbicide vapors are causing a decline of Austrian pines over most of the United States. He no longer recommends the species. I would suggest that we no longer allow the herbicides to be used, especially since they are totally unnecessary.
PROPAGATION: Can probably be grown from seed although I have never done it. Nursery transplants are the common method of growing the plant.
INSIGHT: Austrian pine is more symmetrical and has twisted or curved needles as compared with Japanese black pine. Austrian pine also holds its needles longer and gives a denser internal appearance.
Q: What is the best fertilizer for pines this time of year? They are a bit yellow, perhaps from the harsh weather around Christmas. We used to use Miracid. Is that still a good option or should we use a more organic substance? J.O., Breckenridge Jan 2010
A: Miracid is a synthetic chemical product and not acceptable in an organic program. Assuming that your pines are adapted to the soil on your property, compost and greensand should green up the trees this next spring. Apply the greensand at 80 lbs per 1000 square feet and use an inch of compost over the root zone which goes out 3-4 times the width of the drip line.