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Great Basin bristlecone pines are very long-lived; they can live for over 4500 years and are the oldest living species on earth.

REGENERATION

Cones and Seeds

Limber cones, Anna Schoettle

The high elevation white pines are very slow to mature from a seedling to a cone and seed producing mature tree. The time for these pines to mature from a seedling to a cone - producing tree can be 20 - 50 years; other pines can produce seed in less than 10 years from seedling establishment.

Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine, Anna Schoettle

Once a tree reaches maturity it can produce seed for as long as it lives providing the environmental conditions are suitable. The amount and regularity of seed produced varies greatly among species and even among trees of the same species.

The nutritious seeds produced by these pines are an important food source for a variety of wildlife including, bears, squirrels, rodents, birds and others. The Clark 's nutcracker has an important and mutuality beneficial relationship with some of the high elevation pines; the nutcrackers contribute to seed dispersal and benefit from eating the seed. The birds bury the seeds in caches and those that aren't retrieved and eaten sometimes germinate and form tree clusters.

Pollen and seed cone length and color

Species

Pollen Cone Length

(mm)

Pollen Cone Color

Seed Cone Length

(cm)

Seed Cone Color

Foxtail pine
Pinus balfouriana

6 - 10

Red

6 - 9

Purple, aging red - brown

Great Basin bristlecone pine
Pinus longeava

7 - 10

Purple - red

6 - 9.5

Purple, aging red - brown

Limber pine
Pinus flexilis

15

Pale red or yellow

7 - 15

Straw

Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine
Pinus aristata

10

Bluish to red

6 - 11

Purple to brown

Whitebark pine
Pinus albicaulis

10 - 15

Scarlet

4 - 8

Dull gray to black purple

Cone Length - 59

Rocky Mountain bristlecone (L) limber seed, Anna SchoettleLimber cone and seed, Anna SchoettleRocky Mountain bristlecone cone and seed, Anna Schoettle

Seed length, color, wing length and dispersal

Species

Seed Length

(mm)

Seed Color

Seed Wing Length (mm)

Primary Seed Dispersal

Foxtail pine
Pinus balfouriana

10

Pale brown, mottled with dark red

10 - 12

Wind

Great Basin bristlecone pine
Pinus longeava

5 - 8

Pale brown, mottled with dark red

10 - 12

Wind and Clark 's nutcrackers (suggested but not proven)

Limber pine
Pinus flexilis

10 - 15

Brown, at times mottled darker

Nearly wingless

Clark 's nutcrackers, pinyon jays and small mammals

Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine
Pinus aristata

5 - 6

Gray brown to near black

10 - 13

Wind and Clark 's nutcrackers

Whitebark pine
Pinus albicaulis

7 - 11

Chestnut brown

Wingless

Clark 's nutcrackers

Table sources: Seed length, color and seed wing length - 59 Seed dispersal - 31, 44, 61 - 70

Seedling establishment

Whitebark cluster, Anna SchoettleMost high elevation white pines reproduce from seed. Vegetative reproduction is infrequent; whitebark pine does occasionally propagate by layering.

The best seedling establishment condition for these pines occurs on disturbed sites. Historically, these pines have thrived in many locations because of their ability to regenerate in openings created by fire and resist many native insects and diseases.
Rocky Mountain bristlecone seedling

Successful seedling establishment requires the coincidence of seed production and dispersal, suitable ground conditions for germination and favorable weather conditions for seedling growth. The specific requirements for reproduction vary by species and occur infrequently and episodically.

Conditions for seedling establishment and time to maturity

Species

Seedling Establishment

conditions

Time to Maturity (seed production)

(yrs)

Foxtail pine
Pinus balfouriana

Best establishment occurs during warm, wet winters with cool summer temperatures

20 - 50

Great Basin bristlecone pine
Pinus longeava

Establishment is a rare, favorable condition to germination and growth is infrequent.

not available

Limber pine
Pinus flexilis

Varies

20 - 40

Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine
Pinus aristata

Best establishment occurs on open and bare mineral soil after a disturbance like fire.

10 - 40

Whitebark pine
Pinus albicaulis

Emergence is best on burned or other exposed mineral soils; Occasional layering may occur especially in krummholz

20 - 30

Table sources: Seed Production - 36, 78, 80, 81, 82 Seedling Establishment - 11, 27, 60, 78, 79, 81

Referred Literature: 85


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