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Publication #ENH-624

Pinus flexilis 'Columnaris': Columnar Limber Pine1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


This cultivar of the North American native tree, probably 30 to 50 feet high and 10 feet wide, has a fairly narrow, silhouette. The 2.5 to 3.5-inch-long, dark blue/green needles are joined by light brown, 1.5-inch-wide, hanging cones which add to the tree's overall attractiveness. Limber Pine is so-named due to the flexible nature of the branches. Young branches can literally be tied into a knot. The tree has the overall look of a White Pine when it is young.

Figure 1. 

Mature Pinus flexilis 'Columnaris': Columnar Limber Pine

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Pinus flexilis
Pronunciation: PIE-nus FLECK-sih-liss
Common name(s): Columnar Limber Pine
Family: Pinaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 5A through 7A (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: container or planter; specimen; Bonsai
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 30 to 50 feet
Spread: 10 to 12 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: columnar
Crown density: dense
Growth rate: slow
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: spiral (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: needle-like (filiform)
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: needled evergreen, evergreen, fragrant
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green, blue or blue-green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: elongated, cone
Fruit length: 3 to 6 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; not showy; typically multi-trunked; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: green
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun or partial shade
Soil tolerances: sand; loam; clay; acidic; alkaline; well-drained; occasionally wet
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: unknown


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant

Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Limber Pine grows best in full sun or partial shade on moist, well-drained soil but will easily adapt to harsher sites. Some horticulturists say they grow better under poor cultural conditions of drought and compacted clay soil. It adapts to wet soil by growing a shallow root system. One of the most tolerant of cold, windy weather in the winter and is not cold damaged when most other Pines show needle browning.

A few of the other cultivars include: `Glauca', foliage is a deeper blue/green than the species; `Glauca Pendula', irregular, wide-spreading shrub with blue/green needles; `Glenmore Dwarf', small, upright, pyramidal tree with blue/grey foliage; `Nana', dwarf bushy type; and `Pendula', wide, weeping silhouette.

Propagation is by seed.

Pests and Diseases

There are a large number of pests and diseases on Pine.



This document is ENH-624, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.