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Pinus radiata D.Don

Trans. Linn. Soc. London 17: 442 (1836).
Chromosome number
2n = 24
Vernacular names
Radiata pine, Monterey pine, insignis pine (En). Pin de Monterey (Fr). Pinheiro insigne (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pinus radiata occurs naturally in California (United States) and the Mexican islands Guadalupe and Cedros. It is widely planted elsewhere, especially in the southern hemisphere and it has become naturalized in various countries. In Africa it has been planted in Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Madagascar.
The wood (trade names: radiata pine, Californian pine) is used for construction, joinery, furniture, veneer, plywood, packing cases, poles, posts, shuttering, particle board and fibreboard. It is also suitable for flooring, interior trim, toys, turnery, matches, railway sleepers, hardboard and wood-wool. It is used as fuelwood and widely used for paper making. Oleoresin is tapped from the trees and distilled to obtain turpentine and rosin. Turpentine is used for the production of pine oil, terpene resins, flavours and fragrances. Rosin is used in the production of paper, inks, emulsifiers, synthetic resins, soap and glue. Pinus radiata has been planted for soil conservation, in windbreaks and as an ornamental tree.
Production and international trade
Pinus radiata is the most widely planted pine in the world, occupying about 4 million ha, of which 90% is in the southern hemisphere. The main growing countries are Chile and New Zealand (about 1.5 million ha each), followed by Australia (more than 700,000 ha), Spain (about 220,000 ha) and South Africa (about 55,000 ha). In East Africa it was much planted until it was severely attacked by Dothistroma needle blight (Mycosphaerella pini) in the 1960s, causing abandonment of large-scale plantings in many parts of Africa in favour of more resistant species such as Pinus patula Schltdl. & Cham. and Cupressus lusitanica Mill.
The heartwood is pinkish brown and distinctly demarcated from the exceptionally wide creamy white sapwood, which constitutes the bulk of the commercial timber. The grain is often spiralled near the pith, but elsewhere usually straight, texture moderately fine and even. Growth rings are up to 3 cm wide. Numerous resin canals are present. Knots are common.
The density of the wood is (330–)380–610 kg/m³ at 12% moisture content. The wood air dries well. Wood to be used for joinery needs kiln drying for 2–3 days to remove stresses after air drying. Shrinkage from green to oven dry is about 3% radial and 5% tangential.
The wood is fairly soft. At 12% moisture content, the modulus of rupture is 58–99 N/mm², modulus of elasticity 7900–15,400 N/mm², compression parallel to grain 31–50 N/mm², shear 10–13 N/mm², cleavage 16 N/mm radial and 13 N/mm tangential, Janka side hardness 2270–5590 N and Janka end hardness 3510 N.
The wood saws easily, but splitting may occur in thick logs. It works well with hand and machine tools, and careful planing gives a good surface. The wood takes nails well, but older and denser wood may split. Holding properties for screws are good. The wood glues, paints and varnishes well. It is not suitable for steam bending.
The wood, mainly consisting of sapwood, is not durable. It is susceptible to attacks by fungi and termites, and occasional damage by Anobium, pinhole and longhorn borers is possible. The sapwood is not susceptible to Lyctus borers. The sapwood is permeable to impregnation with preservatives, the heartwood is moderately resistant to resistant.
The wood can be pulped using mechanical, chemical and semi-chemical pulping processes. Wood fibre cells of 20-year-old trees grown in Kenya were 2.8–3.1 mm long, with a diameter of 34–37 μm and a cell wall thickness of 4.4–4.5 μm. The chemical composition of the oven-dry wood was: holocellulose 61–64%, α-cellulose 41–43% and lignin 25–26%. The solubility in cold water was 2.3–3.2%, in hot water 2.4–3.5%, in alcohol-benzene 0.8–1.2% and in 1% NaOH 12.0–12.9%. Pulping with the sulphate (kraft) process yielded 43–49% screened pulp, with a kappa number of 20–45. Wood fibre cells of 25-year-old trees in Sudan were on average 2.7 mm long, with a diameter of 39 μm and a cell wall thickness of 4.2 μm. The chemical composition of the oven-dry wood was: holocellulose 71%, α-cellulose 45% and lignin 22%. The solubility in hot water was 4.0%, in alcohol-benzene 1.9% and in 1% NaOH 15.0%. Pulping with the soda-anthraquinone process yielded 48–52% pulp, with a kappa number of 27–48 and good strength properties.
The energy value of the wood is 20,470 kJ/kg. Oleoresin from Kenyan trees contained 69% rosin and 25% turpentine.
Evergreen, monoecious, large tree up to 55(–60) m tall; bole more or less straight, up to 150(–250) cm in diameter; outer bark dark brown, deeply grooved with age; crown dense; branches upcurved. Leaves in bundles of (2–)3, needle-shaped, (3–)8–18(–20) cm long, soft, sharp-tipped, usually intense dark green but sometimes yellowish or bluish green. Male cone in dense clusters. Mature female cone in groups of 3–6, ovoid-conical, 5–21 cm × 2.5–12 cm, oblique at base, shiny pale brown, persistent on the branches for many years, with scales having a blunt apex, c. 200-seeded.
Growth can be exceptionally fast. After an initial phase of 2–5 years, plants have a growth rate of up to 2 m/year. In Madagascar 36-year-old trees had a height up to 37 m and a bole diameter up to 58 cm. Pollen production starts when trees are 5–6 years old, and female flowering starts around the same age. Pollination is by wind. Female cones take 2 years to mature. Mature cones may remain closed on the tree for up to 40 years.
Pinus is a large genus comprising over 110 species, almost all restricted to the northern hemisphere. Many Pinus species are cultivated outside their natural distribution area, in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions. In the tropics 2 species are more important than all others: Pinus caribaea Morelet in the lowland humid tropics and Pinus patula in the cooler highland tropics and subtropics.
Pinus radiata is grown at 1500–3000 m altitude, in areas with a mean annual temperature of 8–18°C, a mean maximum temperature of the warmest month of 13–30°C, a mean minimum temperature of the coldest month of –3–12°C, an average annual rainfall of 650–1600 mm, and a dry season of up to 6 months. It requires more fertile soils than other pines, and grows best on deep, well-drained, neutral to acid soils. Provenances vary in frost tolerance. Ground fires are tolerated by older trees, but crown fires can kill the tree.
Pinus radiata is light-demanding but more tolerant of shade than most other pines; it may even form a vigorous understorey. It may become invasive.
Propagation is mainly by seed. The 1000-seed weight is 18–30 g. To open the cones, they are dried in the open or in kilns. Kiln temperatures up to 55°C are tolerated. Seeds can be stored for several years under cool, dry and airtight conditions. Germination is rapid and uniform, pre-treatment is unnecessary. Mycorrhizae are necessary for seedling growth, so it is recommended to inoculate with spores or to add soil from near established trees. Seedlings are ready for planting out when 4–8(–24) months old. Common spacings are 1.5–3 m × 1.5–3 m. Vegetative propagation by shoot cuttings or grafts is also practised. The use of tissue culture and embryogenesis is technically feasible.
During establishment 2–3 weedings per year are recommended. Herbicides and fertilizers are often applied in commercial plantations. Trees are usually pruned and thinned. Intensive systems are common in New Zealand, with heavy thinning (down to 200–250 trees/ha) and pruning (to 5 m height), and rotations of 25 years or less, whereas in Australia light thinning and low pruning are common, with rotations of up to 50 years. The number of knots in the wood can be reduced by close planting and pruning.
Pinus radiata is affected by Dothistroma needle blight (Mycosphaerella pini), causing the death of needles and subsequently the whole tree. The disease has led to the abandonment of Pinus radiata as a plantation species in many parts of Africa, and the use of alternative species, such as Pinus patula. Progress has been made in breeding for resistance to the disease. Pinus radiata is one of the pines most susceptible to pitch canker caused by the fungus Fusarium circinatum, one of the most important pine diseases in the world and threatening plantations in South Africa. Symptoms are resin-soaked cankers on the bole and branches, shoot die-back and death of young and mature female cones. In nurseries it causes damping-off, shoot and tip die-back and death of seedlings. Another important disease is Sphaeropsis canker caused by Sphaeropsis sapinea (synonym: Diplodia pinea), which may lead to shoot die-back and death of the tree. Sphaeropsis sapinea is particularly common in Africa. Pinus radiata is also susceptible to Armillaria root rot, common in Ethiopia. In South Africa the pine emperor moth (Imbrasia cytherea) can be troublesome, and the pine whoolly aphid (Pineus pini) is causing concern.
Annual volume increments up to 40 m³/ha are possible. Logs left on the ground after felling will discolour if they are not treated.
To obtain oleoresin, trees over 23 cm in diameter are tapped by wounding the tree (‘streaking’) and attaching a cup to collect the exudate. A rosin plant has been established in Kenya.
Genetic resources and breeding
Abundant genetic variation has allowed for highly successful breeding programmes. Provenance testing and breeding is done in South Africa and other major producing countries. Early breeding efforts focused on growth rate, tree form and disease resistance, but emphasis has shifted towards wood properties. Molecular biology is being explored, and protocols have been developed for genetic transformation of embryogenic tissue using biolistic and Agrobacterium-mediated systems, and stably transformed plants have been regenerated.
Its very fast growth, ease of establishment, wide ecological adaptation and the suitability of the wood for a wide range of applications make it the utility softwood of choice wherever it can be grown satisfactorily. In tropical Africa, however, its susceptibility to diseases is a major problem, which has prevented wide success.
Major references
• Bekele-Tesemma, A., 2007. Useful trees and shrubs for Ethiopia: identification, propagation and management for 17 agroclimatic zones. Technical Manual No 6. RELMA in ICRAF Project, Nairobi, Kenya. 552 pp.
• Bolza, E. & Keating, W.G., 1972. African timbers: the properties, uses and characteristics of 700 species. Division of Building Research, CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia. 710 pp.
• Burdon, R., 2002. Pinus radiata D.Don. In: CAB International. Pines of silvicultural importance. CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, United Kingdom. pp. 359–379.
• Lamprecht, H., 1989. Silviculture in the tropics: tropical forest ecosystems and their tree species, possibilities and methods for their long-term utilization. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany. 296 pp.
• Takahashi, A., 1978. Compilation of data on the mechanical properties of foreign woods (part 3) Africa. Shimane University, Matsue, Japan, 248 pp.
Other references
• Banks, C.H. & Schoeman, J.P., 1963. Railway sleeper and crossing timbers. Bulletin 41. The Government Printer, Pretoria, South Africa. 54 pp.
• Coutinho, T.A., Steenkamp. E.T., Mongwaketsi, K., Wilmot, M. & Wingfield, M.J., 2007. First outbreak of pitch canker in a South African pine plantation. Australasian Plant Pathology 36: 256–261.
• Khristova, P., Gabir, S. & Taha, O., 1990. Soda-anthraquinone pulping of Pinus radiata from Sudan. Tropical Science 30(3): 281–287.
• Njenga, H.N., 1995. Processing of oleoresin from Kenyan Pinus radiata into rosin and turpentine. Discovery and Innovation 7(4): 391–394.
• Palmer, E.R., Johnson, J.S., Ganguli, S., Gibbs, J.A. & Dutta, A.P., 1982. Pulping trials on Pinus patula and Pinus radiata grown in plantations in Kenya. Report L63. Tropical Products Institute, London, United Kingdom. 55 pp.
• Rendle, B.J., 1970. World timbers. Vol. 3. Asia & Australia & New Zealand. Ernest Benn, London, United Kingdom & University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada. 175 pp.
• Sutter, E., 1990. Introduction d’espèces exotiques à Madagascar. Rapport de synthèse. Troisième partie: fiches monographiques. Projet d’inventaire des ressources ligneuses, CENRADERU-DRFP, Antananarivo, Madagascar. 150 pp.
• Walter, C., Charity, J., Grace, L., Höfig, K., Möller, R. & Wagner, A., 2002. Gene technologies in Pinus radiata and Picea abies: tools for conifer biotechnology in the 21st century. Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture 70: 3–12.
• Webb, D.B., Wood, P.J., Smith, J.P. & Henman, G.S., 1984. A guide to species selection for tropical and sub-tropical plantations. 2nd Edition. Tropical Forestry Papers No 15. Commonwealth Forestry Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. 256 pp.
• Willan, R.L., 1985. A guide to forest seed handling. FAO Forestry Paper No 20/2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy. 379 pp.
M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

D. Louppe
CIRAD, Département Environnements et Sociétés, Cirad es-dir, Campus international de Baillarguet, TA C-DIR / B (Bât. C, Bur. 113), 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
A.A. Oteng-Amoako
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
J.R. Cobbinah
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
Photo editor
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2008. Pinus radiata D.Don. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
tree habit
obtained from
Plants of Hawaii

obtained from
University of Hawaii

bark and leafy branch
obtained from
University of Hawaii

leafy branches
obtained from
Plants of Hawaii

male cones
obtained from
Plants of Hawaii

female cone
obtained from
University of Hawaii

female cones
obtained from
Plants of Hawaii

obtained from
Plants of Hawaii

obtained from
Carlton McLendon, Inc.