Pinus muricata


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Pinus muricata
Species Authority: D.Don
Common Name(s):
English Bishop Pine, Swamp Pine

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-04-06
Assessor(s): Farjon, A.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P.
Although no figures about decline are known, it is more than likely that this is happening due to habitat alteration in connection to fire fighting/ fire prevention measures. Many subpopulations occur near urbanized parts of the coast, where private property is urging for fires to be put out at quickly as possible. Without periodic destruction of the vegetation by (natural) fires, of which the chaparral vegetation is prone, this species will be out-competed. It qualifies for Vulnerable on these grounds and an estimate of its area of occupancy based on a distribution map from herbarium specimen data covering ca. 100 years. An additional threat is posed by changes in precipitation (fog and rainfall) patterns: some dieback has been attributed to recent droughts (Fischer et al. 2009, Baguskas 2010).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Recorded from the western USA (coastal California; incl. Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island) and from Mexico (Baja California Norte).
Mexico (Baja California); United States (California)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species occurs in eight locations, mostly with small severely fragmented subpopulations, in proximity of the Pacific coast.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Pinus muricata occurs from near sea-level to ca. 300 m a.s.l. in coastal areas. It grows within the chaparral zone influenced by (summer and autumn) fog and winter rain, probably amounting to ca, 500 mm annually. Often brush fires sweep the area during the long, hot summers, killing stands of pines, but the serotinous cones are adapted to open quickly after fire to release the seeds when the undergrowth has been cleared away. Massive regeneration then quickly reoccupies these sites. This species grows in dry sandy soils, on clay barrens and on swampy ground or in peat bogs. The associated vegetation often consists of Adenostoma, Arctostaphylos, Seriphidium (Artemisia), Ceanothus, Heteromeles, Salvia, and other shrubs.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Due to a limited range and small populations Bishop Pine is not a commercially valuable timber tree. Its wood properties are of medium quality, with a coarse grain and much resin; its uses are therefore mainly heavy construction, beams, crates and some light construction, and carpentry or joinery, with the higher grades obtained from larger trees. This species is well known in horticulture and amenity planting, it is often planted in parks and large gardens, though not nearly as common as Pinus radiata, which is also a 'closed-cone' pine from coastal and insular California. Bishop Pine grows poorly on calacareous soils. Its botanical characters are quite variable, yet no cultivars are known under this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats are mainly related to the fire frequencies, on which this species depends for successful regeneration. Fire fighting and suppression or prevention of fires benefits its competitors, and in or near urbanized coastal habitats of the species this will in the longer term prove detrimental.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species occurs in several protected areas, mostly California State Parks. Fire management is crucial for the survival of this species and should attempt to allow fires with natural causes and within a natural cycle to burn out naturally where possible.

Citation: Farjon, A. 2013. Pinus muricata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 29 August 2015.
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