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Pinus pumila - dwarf Siberian pine, Japanese stone pine

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Dwarf Siberian pine is a shrubby species with long needles in bundles of five, beautiful blue-green above and green below, like its close relatives the Siberian and Korean pines (P. cembra ssp. sibirica and P. koraiensis). It is native over a large range in north-east Asia in open snowy areas or on rocky mountain slopes above the tree line. In the Sikhote-Alin mountains it grows with Siberian cypress, (Microbiota decussata), forming impassable dense thickets. It usually grows to 1-2m tall, occasionally taller in the wild. The cones grow in small bunches, rounded like those of the other stone pines but smaller. The seeds are collected and used for human consumption.

The dwarf Siberian pine is generally considered the best-looking of the shrub pines. In Finland it has so far been little used despite being described at times as incomparably more beautiful than the commoner mountain pine. In the light of Mustila experience “incomparable” is a relative term. The best specimens, of Kamchatka provenance, grow well and develop into dense attractive shrubs while other provenances in the same group suffer from needle-damaging fungal infections. It seems that, over time, any shading increases susceptibility, as with the Siberian and Korean pines.