Pinus wallichiana

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Local names:
English (Himalayan white pine,Butan pine,blue pine), French (pin pleureur de l’Himalaya,pin du Bhoutan,pin de l’Himalaya), German (Tranenkiefer), Hindi (kail,biar), Trade name (kai,biar)

Pinus wallichiana is a tree to 50 m tall with straight trunk and short, down-curved branches. Branches longer in solitary trees, creating a dome-like crown. Bark on young trees smooth, becoming fissured with age. Branches in regularly spaced whorls, smooth. Young shoots glaucous, later turning pale grey-green, smooth, ribbed, darkening with age. Winter buds grey with an orange tinge, ovoid-conic, pointed. 

Leaves in fascicles of 5, basal sheaths deciduous, 15-20 cm long, often curved at the base, slender, flexible, abaxial side green, adaxial side with multiple bluish-white stomatal lines; usually pendant but in some trees spreading. 

The male strobili are on lower branches, often in dense clusters on younger twigs. Female cones in groups of 1-6, 20-30 cm long, erect when young but later pendant, bluish-green when young, maturing to light brown with pale brown apophyses. Cone scales wedge-shaped, wide near the apex, apophysis grooved, ending in a blunt umbo; basal scales usually not, or only slightly, reflexed, very resinous.


In Nepal it is found between 1800-3600 m, very occasionally to 4400 m. Often it is found mixed with P.roxburghii. Very characteristic of abandoned fields and grazing land, it extends as far as Afghanistan in the west and Bhutan in the east from Nepal. It is a strong light demander, tending to be invasive under favourable conditions.

Native range
Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan

Tree management

A very hardy but relatively short-lived tree in cultivation, the seedlings are frost-hardy. It is considerably less fire-resistant, but young trees scorched by the fire will sometimes shoot from the base. Small seeds may suffer from drought after the end of the monsoon. They can withstand competition from shrubby growth, but dense matted grass is harmful to them. Browsing easily damages the seedlings. It is a very fast growing tree when young, with new shoots up to 1 metre long per year. 30 years old trees reach 20 metres tall. Growth in height diminishes rapidly when trees are 25 metres tall, probably due to their dislike of exposure at that height.

The trees have always been managed under selection systems, but this is changing more to regular shelterwood system with fixed periodic blocks. The rotation varies from 120 to 200 years in different forests. Weeding and cleaning are usually not required in young blue pine crops. Thinning, though desirable, is generally not carried out for economic reasons.

Studies on seed from eight sources in northern Pakistan also showed that dry, cold conditions are optimum for storage to compensate for years when harvests are poor. Best germination was found with stratification in moist sand for 120 days, followed by nursery sowing at a soil temperature of 15-20°C. It is best to sow the seed in individual pots in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if this is possible otherwise in late winter. A short stratification of 6 weeks at 4°c can improve the germination of stored seed.

In Nepal it is found between 1800-3600 m, very occasionally to 4400 m. Often it is found mixed with P.roxburghii. Very characteristic of abandoned fields and grazing land, it extends as far as Afghanistan in the west and Bhutan in the east from Nepal. It is a strong light demander, tending to be invasive under favourable conditions.

The forests are generally regenerated by natural regeneration assisted by artificial regeneration by direct sowing of seed or planting 2 year-old container-grown seedlings. 

Sowing of seed is carried out in autumn and planting in July-August in the forest. 
Plants have a very sparse root system and the sooner they are planted into their permanent positions the better they will grow. So long as they are given good weed-excluding mulch they establish very well. 

Cuttings only work when taken from very young trees less than 10 years old. Use single leaf fascicles with the base of the short shoot. Disbudding the shoots some weeks before taking the cuttings can help. 

This species has also been successfully vegetatively propagated by embryo cultures and air layering.

 Seed has a very resinous flavour and so is not much relished, honeydew from the aphid-infested leaves is eaten as a  manna. There are reports that  a manna-like substance that exudes from the leaves and twigs is eaten or used like honey. A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood.

The wood is a good firewood but it gives off a pungent resinous smoke. The wood is rich in resin and can be splintered and used as a torch.

Timber: It is a well-known and extensively used joinery wood in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan. The timber is used for construction, in joinery, house fitments, light furniture, packing cases, lamin-boards, flush doors, plane tables and railway sleepers after treatment. The wood is durable under cover but is non-durable in exposed conditions. It is easy to treat with preservatives and can be seasoned well both in air and kilns. 

Tannins or Dyestuffs: A tan or green dye is obtained from the needles

Medicine: The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza  and tuberclosis. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers.The wood is diaphoretic and stimulant. It is useful in treating burning of the body, cough, fainting and ulcers.

Gums and resins: This tree is a commercial source of turpentine and tar. It is said to be superior to P. roxburghii but not produced so freely. Oleo-resins are present in the tissues of all species of pines, but these are often not present in sufficient q

Intercropping: P. wallichiana is a multiple purpose species. It has been recommended for agroforestry and wasteland planting. It provides protection to the steep slopes in the Himalayan mountains on which it grows extensively.