9 Types Of Pine Trees In Arizona (With Pictures)

Arizona has a diverse climate. Some parts are semiarid, while others are arid or humid. 

Southern Arizona is best known for its hot and dry desert climate. This part of Arizona has mild winters and harsh summers. Northern Arizona is very different since its climate is perfect for growing luscious green trees.

In Northern Arizona, you can see canyons, forests, and mountains thriving in moderate temperatures, with snowfall during winter. It snows so much, there are even ski resorts!

Pine trees are especially common in Northern Arizona. However, Northern Arizona is also home to ash, juniper, cottonwood, and cypress trees.

Pine trees all belong to the Pinaceae family. They are evergreen trees that can grow up to 260 feet tall. However, most species stop growing at 150 feet. 

Pine trees are sturdy, living between 100 to 1,000 years. The oldest known pine tree was dated to be 4,900 years old. They produce thick bark, except for a select few species, and female and male pine cones.

Here are the 9 native pine trees found in Arizona:

1. Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata)

Average Size: 40ft tall & 20ft wide
Growth Rate: Slow
Drought Tolerance: Yes
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 1A-3A
Common Names: Colorado Bristlecone Pine, Foxtail Pine, Hickory Pine & Bristlecone Pine

Rocky Mountain Bristlecone pine trees are native to the Grand Canyon state. They are typically found in high elevations within Northern Arizona.

Bristlecone pine trees cannot survive in the desert since they prefer elevations above 7,000 feet and milder temperatures. 

These trees grow very slowly but mature at 40 feet tall and 20 feet wide. They grow best in full sun, with afternoon shade in very warm climates.

Rocky Mountain Bristlecone pine trees are commonly used in backyards and rock gardens. 

Bristlecone pine trees are one of the oldest trees in the world. Although an old tree species, it was only first described in 1862 by George Engelmann.

2. Apache Pine (Pinus engelmanii)

Average Size: 60ft tall & 35ft wide
Growth Rate: Quick
Drought Tolerance: Yes
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 2A-3A (Sometimes grown in zone 10 with shade)
Common Names: Arizona Longleaf Pine

See also  18 Facts About American Kestrels

Apache pine trees are native to Southeastern Arizona and in some areas in New Mexico and Mexico. It requires dry sandy soil to grow and can reach up to 60 feet tall and 35 feet wide.

Although not as common, apache pine trees can reach 120 feet in height.

The cones are red, wide, and 5-7 inches long. They are covered in small prickles.

This unique pine tree’s bark changes color from dark brown to yellow with age. It grows quickly and seldom needs deep watering with maturity. 

Thankfully, these plants are generally healthy and rarely suffer from bark beetles or shoot moths. Squirrels often use spare pine needles to build their nests.

3. Chihuahua Pine (Pinus leiophylla)

Average Size: 50ft tall & 30ft wide
Growth Rate: Average
Drought Tolerance: Yes
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 6-11
Common Names: Smooth-leaf Pine & Yellow pine

Chihuahua pine, also known as yellow pine, commonly grows in southeastern Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Mexico. On average, they reach 35 to 50 feet tall and 20 to 30 feet wide.

The needles are unique and grow in bundles of three to five. They are a glossy green-yellow with gray thick bark.

Chihuahua pine trees are strong and when cut, the wood is used for building railroads, basic construction, and as firewood. This plant grows well next to apache pine and other junipers. 

Something interesting about this pine is that it is tolerant against fires. They are often hit with wildfires and yet survive.

For example, if a fire destroys a pine tree’s crown, the truck can produce new shoots to regrow the destroyed area. This special behavior is a perfect example of convergent evolution.

The only other pine trees to react this way to fire are Pitch Pine and Canary Island Pine, none of which are closely related to the chihuahua pine.

4. Southwestern White Pine (Pinus strobiformis)

Average Size: 50ft tall & 3ft wide
Growth Rate: Quick (up to 12 inches per year)
Drought Tolerance: Yes
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 5-9
Common Names: Mexican White Pine

Native to Arizona, Mexico, Texas, and Colorado, the Southwestern white pine tree stretches up to 100 feet tall. It has a slender trunk and a classic triangular shape.

While not native to Kansas, it grows well, but rarely reaches over 50 feet tall.

Unlike most cones, the tips of the Southwestern white pine cones are bent. The needles grow in groups of five and are a deep green or blue.

See also  Can Llamas And Alpacas Breed? [Answered & Explained]

These trees are hardy, and better yet drought resistant in elevations between 6,000 to 10,000 feet. Too much water can lead to root rot, causing the plant’s early death.

As the tree matures, the shape becomes larger, more open, and irregular.

Southwestern white pine trees are an important part of the ecosystem since they provide shelter and nesting room for many animals including birds and small mammals.

5. Mexican Pinyon Pine (Pinus cembroides)

Average Size: 20ft tall & 20ft wide
Growth Rate: Slow (less than 12 inches per year)
Drought Tolerance: Yes
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 2A-3A
Common Names: Mexican Nut Pine & Mexican Stone Pine 

Most pine trees are tall and wide, but the Mexican pinyon pine tree is one of the smallest native pine trees in Arizona. It grows well in dry hills in mesas near border towns like Douglas. 

Mexican pinyon pine trees mature at 15 to 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide.

The pines are lanky when young and the cones are dark chocolate brown with bright yellow spots. You can even eat the nuts from this pine tree. 

The tree grows slowly and requires well-draining soil. It does not need much water and is drought-resistant. Mexican pinyon pine trees best grow under full sun and high desert soil.

6. Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis)

Average Size: 60ft tall & 30ft wide
Growth Rate: Quick (18 inches per year)
Drought Tolerance: Yes
USDA Hardiness Zone (s): 1A-3A
Common Names: Rocky Mountain Limber Pine

Limber Pine grows well in north central Arizona, where the elevation is high. At the end of the twigs, the needles bunch.

The branches are thin, but heavy which causes them to frequently droop. While they droop, they are resistant to harsh winds and heavy snowfall.

The cones are smooth and grow between 3 to 6 inches long. Limber pines mature when they reach 20 to 60 feet tall and 30 feet wide. This tree is especially popular in wooded areas, public areas, and parks. 

When a limber pine tree matures, they form an open rounded top. They grow best with full sun and light watering. 

7. One-needled Pinyon Pine (Pinus monophylla)

Average Size: 25ft tall & 25ft wide
Growth Rate: Slow (less than 12 inches per year)
Drought Tolerance: Yes
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 2A-3A (zone 10 under shade)
Common Names: Single-leaf Pinyon Pine

Native to Northwestern Arizona and some parts of California, one-needled pinyon pine trees are small and slender. They are 10–25 feet and 15 feet wide but can grow taller when in the right growing conditions.

See also  13 Animals with Scales

The cones are 2 inches long and the nuts are edible.

They grow well in dry, desert regions and are drought-resistant. You can even grow this tree in containers.

Lots of wildlife use the tree for shelter and nesting materials.

One-needled pinyon pine trees have one green-gray needle per fascicle. They require full sun and grow slowly unless watered deeply when young. These trees also produce a lot of stinky sap.

8. Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis)

Average Size: 35ft tall & 15ft wide
Growth Rate: Slow (less than 12 inches per year)
Drought Tolerance: Yes
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 2A-3A & 10 under shade
Common Names: Two-leaf Pinyon Pine, Colorado Pine, Nut Pine

Pinyon pine trees are common throughout North America. They are strong and hardy trees that rarely grow above 35 feet tall and 15 feet wide.

When the trees are young, they appear bushy but develop an oval-shaped crown with maturity. 

The cones are small, reddish brown, and produce edible nuts. Pinyon pine needles grow in groups of two per fascicle and are very popular for birds when fruitful.

As they mature, they require less watering, which is how they thrive in hot and dry conditions.

This pine tree is also very sappy and grows well underneath light posts and electric lines because of its short stature. 

9. Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum)

Average Size: 120ft tall & 30ft wide
Growth Rate: Quick (13 to 24 inches per year)
Drought Tolerance: Yes
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 1A-3A (can grow in zones 10 in cooler conditions)
Common Names: Arizona Pine

Ponderosa pine trees are tall, sometimes growing larger than 120 feet with a 30-foot crown spread. They have a triangular appearance with big bushy branches and needles.

These pine trees thrive in elevations above 5,000 feet.

There are three 3-7 inch needles per fascicle and they vary in color from a glossy green to a moss yellow.

Ponderosa pine trees require full sun and little water when they mature. They grow very quickly, easily reaching 50 feet tall in the first 50 years.

While it is a hardy tree, it does not tolerate flooding or compact soil. Too much water can cause the roots to rot, slowly killing the tree.

While you can grow them in containers, they don’t typically survive transplanting when taller than 2 inches.

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

Recent Posts