Pinus thunbergii

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Black pine
Pruned black pines in Japanese National Garden, Tokyo
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Gymnosperms
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Pinus
Subgenus: P. subg. Pinus
Section: P. sect. Pinus
Subsection: P. subsect. Pinus
P. thunbergii
Binomial name
Pinus thunbergii

Pinus thunbergiana

Pinus thunbergii (syn: Pinus thunbergiana), the black pine,[2] Japanese black pine,[3] or Japanese pine,[4] is a pine tree native to coastal areas of Japan (Kyūshū, Shikoku and Honshū) and South Korea.[5]

It is called gomsol (곰솔) in Korean, hēisōng (黑松) in Chinese, and kuromatsu (黒松) in Japanese.


Black pines can reach the height of 40 metres (130 feet), but rarely achieves this size outside its natural range. The needles are in fascicles of two with a white sheath at the base, 7–12 centimetres (2+344+34 inches) long; female cones are 4–7 cm (1+122+34 in) in length, scaled, with small points on the tips of the scales, taking two years to mature. Male cones are 1–2 cm (1234 in) long borne in clumps of 12–20 on the tips of the spring growth. The bark is gray on young trees and small branches, changing to black and plated on larger branches and the trunk; becoming quite thick on older trunks.[2][3] It is a widely adapted plant with attractive dark green foliage.[6]


In North America this tree is subject to widespread mortality by the native American pinewood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, spread by means of beetle vectors. Subsequently, blue stain fungus invades the plant, leading to a rapid decline and death. This nematode has also been introduced to Japan accidentally, leading to the species becoming endangered in its native area.[citation needed]


Because of its resistance to pollution and salt, it is a popular horticultural tree. In Japan it is widely used as a garden tree both trained as Niwaki and untrained growing as an overstory tree. The trunks and branches are trained from a young age to be elegant and interesting to view. It is one of the classic bonsai subjects, requiring great patience over many years to train properly.[citation needed]

Second flush of growth[edit]

One characteristic of the Japanese black pine that makes it desirable for bonsai, is the possibility of inducing a second flush of new growth and improved ramification in a single growing season. Unlike most pines, which are single flush plants, the Japanese black pine can be induced to produce new buds at the base of each spring candle by simply cutting the candles at the base as they elongate, a technique called decandling. This technique will result, in a few weeks, in the flush of multiple new buds at the base of the cut candle; each of these new buds will result in turn in new candles and branches.[7]

Spring candles elongating in early summer in a Japanese black pine.
Japanese black pine var. 'Kotobuki' as bonsai. This tree is over 65 years old and priced by its flaky bark and very short needles.



  1. ^ Farjon, A. (2013). "Pinus thunbergii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013: e.T42423A2979140. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T42423A2979140.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 575. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.
  3. ^ a b USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Pinus thunbergii". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Pinus thunbergii (クロマツ, Japanese black pine) description". Archived from the original on 2019-04-13. Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  5. ^ Flora of China.
  6. ^ "SelecTree: A Tree Selection Guide". Archived from the original on 2023-08-12. Retrieved 2021-09-22.
  7. ^ "Decandling black pine bonsai - an in-depth guide - Bonsai Tonight". 22 July 2016. Archived from the original on 4 May 2022. Retrieved 20 May 2022.

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