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Publication #ENH-629

Pinus parviflora: Japanese White Pine1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


Japanese white pine creates a striking landscape element wherever it is used. Often seen as a dense, conical form when young, Japanese white pine develops into a 25- to 50-foot-tall, graceful, irregularly-shaped tree, with an equal or greater spread, and a broad, flattened canopy. The 1- to 2.5-inch-long needles are stiff and twisted, forming blue/green tufts of foliage at branch tips, and creating an overall fine texture to the tree's silhouette. The brownish-red cones are one to 4-inches-long and persist on the tree for 6- to 7-years.

Figure 1. 

Young Pinus parviflora: Japanese White Pine

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Pinus parviflora
Pronunciation: PIE-nus par-vih-FLOR-uh
Common name(s): Japanese white pine
Family: Pinaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 4B through 7A (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: specimen; screen; bonsai
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree

Figure 2. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 25 to 50 feet
Spread: 25 to 50 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: pyramidal, spreading
Crown density: dense
Growth rate: slow
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: alternate (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: less than 2 inches, 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: blue or blue-green, green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: oval, cone
Fruit length: 1 to 3 inches, 3 to 6 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: red, brown
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: green, brown
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: high


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: yes
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: sensitive
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: sensitive to pests/diseases

Use and Management

When looking for a small, picturesque specimen pine for a coastal landscape, search no more. One of the best specimens in any landscape, Japanese white pine is a pleasure to behold with attractive foliage in all seasons. Set it off in the landscape with a low ground cover beneath or locate it in the lawn, but keep the grass cleared away from the thin-barked trunk.

Japanese white pine should be grown in full sun on well-drained soil with adequate moisture. The trees are salt-tolerant, and tolerate moderate drought and moist, clay soil.

Cultivars include: 'Brevifolia', upright, narrow tree, sparsely branched, blue/green foliage in tight bundles; and 'Glauca', available in nurseries, greenish foliage with a touch of silver, wide-spreading tree, 45 feet high or more.

Propagation is by seed.

Pests and Diseases

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



This document is ENH-629, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, 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; and 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.