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Pinus cembra

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES PINACEAE

Scientific Name: Pinus cembra
Species Authority: L.
Common Name(s):
English Arolla Pine, Swiss Stone Pine
French Auvier, Pin arole

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-08-05
Assessor(s): Farjon, A.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Luscombe, D
Justification:
Pinus cembra is assessed as Least Concern as it is widespread in the Alps and Carpathians, well protected in many reserves, and in several regions in the Alps it is currently expanding its altitudinal extent.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Europe: Alps, Carpathians. Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, France, Italy, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegowina, Moldova and Ukraine.
Countries:
Native:
Austria; Czech Republic; France; Germany; Italy; Poland; Romania; Switzerland; Ukraine
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In many parts of the Alps the abandonment of high alpine pasture causes the tree line, brought down artificially for grazing over centuries, to creep up again. The Arolla Pine is particularly capable of expansion up slope, as its seeds are carried by the Eurasion Nutcracker, a bird that caches seeds. As a result the population is slowly increasing.
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Found in the inner valleys of the Alps Pinus cembra, together with Larix decidua, forms open conifer forest and woodland up to the tree line at between 2,200 and 2,600 m altitude. Arolla Pine may descend down to 1,200 m, where it is usually a rare component of conifer forest dominated by Picea abies. Centuries of intensive grazing mainly with cattle have brought the tree line in the Alps down and turned much of the ancient forest into pasture woodland. This vegetation is in places dominated by Ericaceae such as Vaccinium myrtillus and Rhododendron ferrugineum, grasses and herbs. However, more recently alpine grazing has been substantially reduced and the forest is making a come-back on many slopes. Arolla Pine is dependent on the European Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes, Corvidae) for its effective seed dispersal and the birds carry the seeds and therewith the pines up slope. Pinus cembra is most probably a Siberian element in the European flora and is resistant to -40º frost; unlike accompanying the larches, P. cembra has evergreen foliage and it reduces the water content in the needles during winter to a minimum. Pinus cembra is slow growing and can live to great age (>1000 years in the Swiss Aletschwald) having rot-resistant wood.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Arolla Pine is not a significant timber tree due to its slow growth and commonly curved or contorted shape, although the tree can grow quite straight and to considerable size in protected localities. As it grows with European larch and the latter is much more valued for timber, forestry practises tend to favour the latter, which in successional terms is the pioneer species. The wood has been used for the building of traditional houses and is valued for special uses such as joinery, panelling, cabinet making, tools, and wood turning. The seeds, though edible, are difficult to harvest due to the soft, resinous and closed cone scales and are consequently mostly left to the birds. As an ornamental tree it is quite valuable, but it is sensible to 'late frosts' as are other conifers from very cold regions where spring means spring and is not interrupted by a brief return to winter. Despite this, a number of cultivars are known, both with distinct habit and with divergent needle colours; they are particularly well grown in northern and eastern Europe.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats come mainly from tourist development, in particular the massive infrastructure required for mass tourism skiing, e.g. pistes, lifts, accommodation, roads and parking lots. Forests of Arolla Pine have been fragmented and habitat has been altered thereby, making regeneration less likely.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is present in several national parks and some forests, like the Aletschwald in Switzerland, are specifically protected for this species.

Citation: Farjon, A. 2013. Pinus cembra. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 October 2014.
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