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SPECIES:  Pinus muricata
Bishop pine. Image by Clarity at Flicker.



SPECIES: Pinus muricata
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Cope, Amy B. 1993. Pinus muricata. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Images were added on 19 June 2018.
ABBREVIATION: PINMUR SYNONYMS: Pinus muricata var. borealis (Howell) Axelrod Pinus muricata var. stantonii Axelrod Pinus muricata var. muricata [28] Pinus remorata Mason NRCS PLANT CODE: PIMU PIMUB PIMUM PIMUS COMMON NAMES: Bishop pine Bishop's pine prickle-cone pine California swamp pine TAXONOMY: The scientific name of Bishop pine is Pinus muricata D. Don [8,22,35]. Bishop pine rarely hybridizes with Monterey pine (P. radiata); timing of cone opening usually differs in the two species [8,44]. LIFE FORM: Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Pinus muricata
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Bishop pine occurs in disjunct coastal populations from Curry County, Oregon, into California from Humboldt County south to Santa Barbara County. It is also found on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands, and in Baja California, Mexico [8,21,22,28,43].
Distribution of Bishop pine. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, June 19] [43].
   FRES20  Douglas-fir
   FRES26  Lodgepole pine
   FRES27  Redwood
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES42  Annual grasslands


    3  Southern Pacific Border

   K006  Redwood forest
   K009  Pine - cypress forest
   K029  California mixed evergreen forest
   K033  Chaparral
   K035  Coastal sagebrush
   K048  California steppe

   218  Lodgepole pine
   229  Pacific Douglas-fir
   232  Redwood
   255  California coast live oak


Bishop pine is frequently dominant in closed-cone pine forests
[15,27,37,42,44].  Stands are open with little or no understory on dry,
rocky sites, with a more dense understory on moist sites [15].  Bishop
pine also occurs in mesic border areas of woodlands and savannas [27].

In the northern part of its range, Bishop pine occurs in pure stands and
in redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii),
and pygmy forests [15,26,28,44].  In the southern portion of its
range, it is found in annual grassland, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral
communities.  Scattered bisop pine stands often form a mosaic with these
communities [6,15,18,44].

Bishop pine is named as a dominant tree in the following published

Terrestrial natural communities of California [15]
A vegetation classification system applied to southern California [36]
The southern California islands [37]
Vascular plant communities of California [42]
The closed-cone pines and cypress [44]

Associated canopy species not previously mentioned include Gowen cypress
(Hesperocyparis goveniana), Monterey cypress (H. macrocarpa), Tecate cypress
(H. forbesii), Mendocino cypress (H. pigmaea), Bolander pine (Pinus contorta 
var. bolanderi), Monterey pine (Pinus radiata), and Pacific madrone 
(Arbutus menziesii) [3,6,17,26,45].  Understory associates include glossyleaf 
manzanita (Arctostaphylos nummularia), woollyleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos 
tomentosa), Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum), California 
huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), and salal (Gautheria shallon) [3,15,17,26,44].


SPECIES: Pinus muricata
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE: Bishop pine wood is light, strong, hard, and coarse-grained [25,35]. It has good papermaking properties [40]. The growth habit of Bishop pine varies, but on fair to good sites it shows good form and uniform size [28,40]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Squirrels occasionally eat Bishop pine seeds, but the spiny cones usually deter seed predators [23,44]. Browsing by exotic sheep on Santa Cruz Island has resulted in the absence of regeneration and an accelerated deterioration of Bishop pine [7]. PALATABILITY: NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE: NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE: NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: Bishop pine can be used for erosion control [16]. Its roots bind soil more effectively than coastal sage scrub and annual grass species [7]. On low coastal terraces, Bishop pine helps to stabilize sand dunes [17,38]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: When planting Bishop pine, the genotype of planted seeds or trees vs. the genotype of existing populations should be compared in order to preserve the genetic purity of Bishop pine. seeds of unknown origin were sown in an area of northern California where two genotypically distinct Bishop pine overlap in the mid-1960's. Genes from the unknown source have been found in seeds from native trees. As a result, trees from this site has lost their value for genetic and evolutionary studies [31].


SPECIES: Pinus muricata
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Bishop pine is a native conifer, typically 49 to 50 feet (15-25 m) tall [15,30,35,46]. The needles are 3 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) long and persist for 2 to 3 years [11,24,29,35]. The asymmetric, thin- to thick-scaled, spiny cones are 1.9 to 2.8 inches (5-7 cm) long [23,24,47]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: The interval between good seed crop is 2 to 3 years. Bishop pine begins to produce seed at the age of 5 to 6 years [19]. Bishop pine produces cones that remain closed for several years and open after fire or on hot days [44]. Temperatures of up to 203 degrees Fahrenheit (95 deg C) do not seriously reduce seed germination [23]. The germinative capacity is approximately 80 percent [19,23]. A germination study indicated that seeds germinate equally well on highly acid, serpentine, or clay soils [26]. Growth of Bishop pine is rapid [2,25,38]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: The climate where Bishop pine occurs is Mediterranean; most of the precipitation falls in the winter, and summers are dry [45,46]. Fog occurs in spring and summer is important to Bishop pine's survival [15,29,33,36,44]. Slopes vary from flat to steep, and are often north-facing [37,38,44,46]. Bishop pine occurs from near sea level to 1,320 feet (0-400 m) in elevation [44]. Soils in which Bishop pine grows are sometimes shallow and poorly drained [44]. In the pygmy forest, the upper soil layer is devoid of nutrients, has a low pH (4.7), and covers an impermeable hardpan. When growing in this soil, Bishop pine has stunted growth [3]. It is also found on less acidic soils which vary from dry, gravelly sands to peat bogs [38]. Diatomaceous shale soils support good growth [44]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Bishop pine stands are typically even-aged, originating after fire [15,18,33,44]. Fire is the most common natural disturbance in bishop pine communities [9]. Bishop pine has intermediate shade tolerance [4,25]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Cones of Bishop pine open for pollination between April and June [10,15,19]. Growth is initiated in the spring [15].


SPECIES: Pinus muricata
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Fire plays an important ecological role in continuance or maintenance of Bishop pine communities [6,11,44]. Older trees have thick bark, which enables them to survive surface fire in woodlands and savannas [25]. Bishop pine stands, however, are often dense [44], and stand-replacing crown fire typically occurs in such stands. The generally serotinous and persistent cones are adapted to open when exposed to such heat [9,11,15,27,29]. Serotiny is somewhat variable; northern populations are less serotinous than southern populations [47]. Seed released from serotinous cones results in even-aged stands; most seedling establishment occurs in the first postfire year [18,44]. Bishop pine's rapid growth and early production of seed help prevent its elimination from areas where fires are frequent [2,19]. A fire-free period of 80 years or more results in greatly increased susceptibility to disease [44]. Analysis of point and composite data at Salt Point State Park, California showed fire intervals of 20.5 to 29 years and 6.1 to 9.3 years, respectively [13]. Bishop pine does not sprout after fire [18]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY: Tree without adventitious-bud root crown Crown residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Pinus muricata
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Large, thick-barked trees probably survive low- to moderate-severity surface fires. Crown fire kills Bishop pine [44]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT: NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Bishop pine cones open and release seed after exposure to intense heat [27,44]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: The half-life of Bishop pine litter is approximately 7.5 years. Biomass and productivity varies between stands [43]. Fire reduces fuel loading and improves seedbed conditions for bishop pine [27].


SPECIES: Pinus muricata
REFERENCES: 1. Ades, P. K.; Simpson, J. A.; Eldridge, K. G.; Eldridge, R. H. 1992. Genetic variation in susceptibility to Dothistroma needle blight among provenance and families of Pinus muricata. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 22: 1111-1117. [20210] 2. Agee, James K. 1974. Environmental impacts from fire management alternatives. Final Report on Purchase Order PX 8000 3 0644. San Francisco, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Western Regional Office. 92 p. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [12404] 3. Anderson, Catherine L. 1983. Geobotany: An aid to geologic mapping. California Geology. 36(2): 35-43. [20654] 4. Baker, Frederick S. 1949. A revised tolerance table. Journal of Forestry. 47: 179-181. [20404] 5. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 6. Brown, David E. 1982. Relict conifer forests and woodlands. In: Brown, David E., ed. Biotic communities of the American Southwest--United States and Mexico. Desert Plants. 4(1-4): 70-71. [8888] 7. Brumbaugh, Robert S.; Renwick, William H.; Loeher, Larry L. 1982. Effects of vegetation change on shallow landsliding: Santa Cruz Island, California. In: Conrad, C. Eugene; Oechel, Walter C., technical coordinators. Proceedings of the symposium on dynamics and management of Mediterranean-type ecosystems; 1981 June 22-26; San Diego, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-58. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station: 397-402. [6043] 8. Critchfield, William B.; Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1966. Geographic distribution of the pines of the world. Misc. Publ. 991. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 97 p. [20314] 9. D'Antonio, Carla M.; Howald, Ann M. 1990. Evaluating the effectiveness of hydroseed mixes, topsoil conservation & other reveg techniques: a case study in Santa Barbara Co., California. In: Hughes, H. Glenn; Bonnicksen, Thomas M., eds. Restoration `89: the new management challange: Proceedings, 1st annual meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration; 1989 January 16-20; Oakland, CA. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Society for Ecological Restoration: 338-348. [14710] 10. Duffield, J. W. 1953. Pine pollen collection dates--annual and geographic variation. For. Res. Notes No. 85. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, California Forest and Range Experiment Station. 9 p. [17970] 11. Evarts, Bill. 1986. Torrey pines: resurrection or remission. Environment Southwest. 514: 3-8. [5602] 12. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 13. Finney, Mark A.; Martin, Robert E. 1989. Fire history in a Sequoia sempervirens forest at Salt Point State Park, California. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 19: 1451-1457. [9845] 14. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 15. Holland, Robert F. 1986. Preliminary descriptions of the terrestrial natural communities of California. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Fish and Game. 156 p. [12756] 16. Howald, Ann M.; D'Antonio, Carla. 1990. Designing a monitoring program for a native plant community revegetation project. In: Hughes, H. Glenn; Bonnicksen, Thomas M., eds. Restoration '89: the new management challenge: Proceedings, 1st annual meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration; 1989 January 16-20; Oakland, CA. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Society for Ecological Restoration: 182-193. [14694] 17. Jenny, H.; Arkley, R. J.; Schultz, A. M. 1969. The pygmy forest-podsol ecosystem and its dune associates of the Mendocino Coast. Madrono. 20: 60-74. [10726] 18. Keeley, Jon E.; Keeley, Sterling C. 1988. Chaparral. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Billings, William Dwight, eds. North American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press: 165-207. [19545] 19. Krugman, Stanley L.; Jenkinson, James L. 1974. Pinaceae--pine family. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 598-637. [1380] 20. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 21. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1975. Rare and local conifers in the United States. Conservation Research Rep. No. 19. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 25 p. [15691] 22. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952] 23. Linhart, Yan B. 1978. Maintenance of variation in cone morphology in California closed-cone pines: the roles of fire, squirrels, and seed output. Southwestern Naturalist. 23(1): 29-40. [19166] 24. Mason, Herbert L. 1927. Fossil records of some West American conifers. Publications of the Carnegie Institute. 346: 139-159. [10707] 25. McCune, Bruce. 1988. Ecological diversity in North American pines. American Journal of Botany. 75(3): 353-368. [5651] 26. McMillan, Calvin. 1956. The edaphic restriction of Cupressus and Pinus in the Coast Ranges of central California. Ecological Monographs. 26: 177-212. [11884] 27. Menke, John W.; Villasenor, Ricardo. 1977. The California Mediterranean ecosystem and its management. In: Mooney, Harold A.; Conrad, C. Eugene, technical coordinators. Proc. of the symp. on the environmental consequences of fire and fuel management in Mediterranean ecosystems; 1977 August 1-5; Palo Alto, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-3. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 257-270. [4847] 28. Metcalf, Woodbridge. 1921. Notes on the bishop pine (Pinus muricata). Journal of Forestry. 19(8): 886-902. [21352] 29. Millar, Constance I. 1986. The Californian closed cone pines (subsection Oocarpae Little and Critchfield): a taxonomic history and review. Taxon. 35(4): 657-670. [5972] 30. Millar, Constance I. 1989. Allozyme variation of bishop pine associated with pygmy-forest soils in northern California. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 19: 870-879. [8912] 31. Millar, Constance I.; Libby, William J. 1989. Disneyland or native ecosystem: genetics and the restorationist. Restoration and Management Notes. 7(1): 18-24. [8071] 32. Millar, Constance I.; Strauss, Steven H.; Conkle, M. Thompson; Westfall, Robert D. 1988. Allozyme differentiation and biosystematics of the California closed- cone pines (Pinus subsect. Oocarpae). Systematic Biology. 13(3): 351-370. [5674] 33. Minnich, Richard A. 1987. The distribution of forest trees in northern Baja California, Mexico. Madrono. 34(2): 98-127. [6985] 34. Jaynes, Richard A. 1971. Seed germination of six Kalmia species. Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Science. 96(5): 668-672. [14606] 35. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. [6155] 36. Paysen, Timothy E.; Derby, Jeanine A.; Black, Hugh, Jr.; [and others]. 1980. A vegetation classification system applied to southern California. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-45. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 33 p. [1849] 37. Philbrick, Ralph N., Haller, J. R. 1977. The southern California islands. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Malor, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 893-906. [7210] 38. Pinchot, Gifford. 1908. California swamp pine. Silvical Leaflet 30. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 2 p. [21354] 39. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 40. Shelbourne, C. J. A. 1974. Recent investigations of wood properties and growth performance in Pinus muricata. New Zealand Journal of Forestry. 19(1): 13-45. [21355] 41. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 42. Thorne, Robert F. 1976. The vascular plant communities of California. In: Latting, June, ed. Symposium proceedings: plant communities of southern California; 1974 May 4; Fullerton, CA. Special Publication No. 2. Berkeley, CA: California Native Plant Society: 1-31. [3289] 43. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available: [34262] 44. Vogl, Richard J.; Armstrong, Wayne P.; White, Keith L.; Cole, Kenneth L. 1977. The closed-cone pines and cypress. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Major, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 295-358. [7219] 45. Wells, Philip V. 1962. Vegetation in relation to geological substratum and fire in the San Luis Obispo Quadrangle, California. Ecological Monographs. 32(1): 79-103. [14183] 46. Westman, W. E.; Whittaker, R. H. 1975. The pygmy forest region of northern California: studies on biomass and primary productivity. Journal of Ecology. 63: 493-520. [8186] 47. Zedler, Paul H. 1986. Closed-cone conifers of the chaparral. Fremontia. 14(3): 14-17. [18648]

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