Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 85 Pinus thunbergii

Common Names: black pine, Japanese black pine Family: Pinaceae (pine Family)

japanese black pine
Japanese black pine assumes massive proportions with age, often assuming attractively irregular forms.


Japanese black pine is a distinctive and picturesque evergreen with an open, irregular structure. The branches are large and contorted, horizontally spreading and sometimes pendulous. The foliage tends to be concentrated near the tips of the branchlets. Japanese black pine generally gets 20-30 ft (6-9 m) tall in cultivation, but can get over 100 ft (30.5 m) tall in its native habitat. Japanese black pine has fairly stiff dark green needles 3-5 in (7.6-12.7 cm) long in sheaths of two. It usually sports silvery white "candles" - young fast-growing upright shoots. The candles really stand out against the dark green foliage.

Many cultivars have been selected, especially in Japan, and most are difficult to obtain in the U.S. 'Thunderhead' is compact, with dense foliage and stays under 10 ft (3 m) tall. The needles of 'Oculus-draconis' have yellow crossbands. 'Iseli' has needles edged with yellow. 'Kotobuki' is smaller with short needles. There are several dwarf cultivars selected for bonsai.

japanese black pine
Japanese black pine has needlelike leaves that are attached to the branchlets in clusters of 2.


Japanese black pine, Pinus thunbergii, is native to northeastern China, Korea and Japan. It's a popular landscape tree in Japan and in coastal gardens in northern Europe and the northeastern U.S.


To shape pine trees, prune away half of the new candle in spring and the shoot will develop side branches; then you can select which side branches to keep. Light: Full sun. Moisture: Japanese black pine is quite tolerant of drought and requires a well-drained soil. It does very well in sand. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 8. Zone 5 and 8 are the extremes; Japanese black pine seems to do best in zones 6 and 7. Propagation: Seeds germinate readily. Cuttings and grafting can be used for cultivars, but the success rate is usually very low.


Japanese black pine is very tolerant of high winds and salt spray - an excellent evergreen for the coastal and even the seaside garden. Use this tough pine in exposed situations, where it develops its most picturesque form. Japanese black pine has been used to stabilize sand dunes. It also is reported to be tolerant of urban conditions.

japanese black pine
Japanese black pine's thick bark provides protection from wind and salt-spray.


There are some 110 species in the genus Pinus, which is one of nine genera in the family Pinaceae, which is (according to some authorities) one of seven families in the order Coniferales. The other genera in the pine family are Abies, the firs; Cedrus, the cedars; Keteleeria, a genus of three obscure fir-like species from SE Asia; Larix, the larches; Picea, the spruces; Pseudotsuga, the Douglas firs; Tsuga, the hemlocks; and Nothotsuga, Cathaya and Pseudolarix, three obscure monotypic genera from China.

The other families in the order Coniferales are the Araucariaceae, a family of 2 genera and 32 species, including Norfolk Island Pine and monkey puzzle tree; Cephalotaxaceae, 7 species of plum-yews in a single genus; Cupressaceae, 17 genera with about 120 species including Monterey cypress, the junipers and American arborvitae; Podocarpaceae, seven genera with about 100 species including the Japanese yews; Taxaceae, the true yews such as Florida yew and torreya; and Taxodiaceae, an ancient family with 10 genera and including such species as baldcypress, California redwood and dawn redwood. Some authorities place the families Taxaceae, Cephalotaxaceae and Podocarpaceae in a separate order, Taxales, and some authorities include the family Taxodiaceae within Cupressaceae.

Steve Christman 10/21/00; updated 9/10/03

Master Plant List

Click here to find plants in our Encyclopedia using the Master Plant List grid. Use this widget to search, sort and filter Floridata's plant database to easily locate Plant Profile pages. Use the dropdown menus to filter the grid to display items matching the selected Plant Type and Feature tags.

Plant Type Tags

tree icon
shrub icon
perennial plant icon
aquatic plant icon
cactus and succulents icon
grass icon
vine icon

Feature Tags

Attracts Birds
Attracts butterflies
Attracts Hummingbirds
Edible Plants
Cutting and Arranging
for pots and containers
drought tolerant plants
grows in wet soils
ornamental fruits
fall color
foliage plants
easy to grow plants
fast growing

Site Search

Use Google to search all of the pages on Floridata including the Plant Profile pages

Pinus species profiled on Floridata:

Pinus clausa

( sand pine, scrub pine )

Pinus echinata

( shortleaf pine, yellow pine, shortstraw pine )

Pinus elliottii

( slash pine )

Pinus flexilis

( limber pine,Rocky Mountain white pine )

Pinus mugo

( mugo pine, mountain pine, Swiss mountain pine, mugho pine, dwarf mountain pine )

Pinus nigra

( Austrian pine, European black pine )

Pinus palustris

( longleaf pine, southern yellow pine, heart pine, southern pine )

Pinus strobus

( eastern white pine, northern white pine, northern pine, soft pine )

Pinus sylvestris

( Scots pine, Scotch pine )

Pinus taeda

( loblolly pine )

Pinus thunbergii

( black pine, Japanese black pine )

Pinus virginiana

( Virginia pine,Jersey pine,poverty pine,scrub pine )

More Floridata:

Copyright 2015 Floridata.com LLC