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SPOTLIGHT ON
IRISH NATIVE SCOTS PINE

About the Scots Pine
(lat: Pinus sylvestris):


Irish native Scots Pine ...
Pinus sylvestris ...
An Giúis

The Scots Pine is actually a native Irish tree. Scotia was an ancient name given to Ireland by the Romans and the name really means Irish pine. Alba was the ancient Irish name for Scotland.

What does a Scots Pine look like?

Overview: mature trees can grow quite tall – up to 30 metres and can live for more than 150 years. It has a bright orange/red bark and its leaves are in pairs, two-needled.

Leaves: it is an evergreen tree so has leaves all the year round. They are a deep green colour, finely lined with bluish-grey.

Flowers: The tree has both male and female flowers which are wind-pollinated so there are no petals to attract insects. The female flowers are at the tips of the shoots while the male flowers which contain the pollen are further down the shoots.

Cones: After pollination the female flowers develop into green closed cones which open the following year to release the winged pine seeds within.

Look out for: the resiny smell of the crushed leaves and bark.

Where to find Scots Pine:
It was once abundant in ancient Irish woodlands especially on high ground and on less fertile soil. It has been planted on marginal land where other species of trees would not survive.

Value to wildlife:
The seeds of the ripe pine cones are the favourite food of the red squirrel, which is well able to extract them from the woody cones. Bees make propolis from resin that oozes out of cracks in the bark. They use this in their hives to seal and protect cells. It also protects the bees themselves from viruses and bacteria.

When applying for your sapling tree, you need to consider where the tree will live and grow for the rest of its life.
Irish native Scots Pine


Irish native Scots Pine


Irish native Scots Pine
Mythology and symbolism:
In the ancient Irish Ogham alphabet pine represented the first vowel A. It also was the tree of the second month in the Ogham Tree Calendar which ran from 29 November to 26 December – a winter tree as it had its leaves at this time. It burns brightly so it was associated with festivals welcoming the return of the sun after the winter solstice around 21 December.
In early Irish law pine was considered to be one of the Nobles of the Wood. This was because resin was collected from the living tree and used for sealing boats by caulking and for preserving wood.

Bog Deal:
Great forests of this tree once covered our mountains. Five thousand years ago our climate grew wetter and colder and blanket bog formed there instead. The Scots Pine forests vanished around this time, due to human influence, the wetter and colder climate and the growth of the blanket bog. However their roots were preserved in the anaerobic acidic substrate. To this day, the remains of those pine trees, known as bog deal – turn up in those western blanket bogs when they are being cut for turf.

Modern discoveries about Scots Pine in Ireland:
Botanists from Trinity College Dublin have discovered in recent years that the original native Scots Pine has been thriving in County Clare for thousands of years. Scots pine was one of the first trees to colonise Ireland after the ice sheets of the last glaciation finally melted, some 12,000 years ago. Despite its initial abundance it gradually declined to disappear from most parts of the country about 4,000 years ago. This widespread former abundance of pine is clearly evident from the pine stumps often exposed through turf cutting.
Scots pine lingered on in a few locations for a further 2,000 years but was presumed to have disappeared completely until it was reintroduced from Scotland in the 17th century through planting.
However, a research team led by Professor of Quaternary Ecology in Trinity's School of Natural Sciences, Fraser Mitchell, has confirmed that the tree never died out in Co. Clare.
"We analysed pollen grains preserved in lake sediments to look into the natural history of this species, and those grains revealed its continual presence over the years at a location in east Clare".
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