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Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Evergreen Trees (Conifers), Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Foxtail Pines near timberline in the southern Sierra

General: Southern Foxtail Pines (Pinus balfouriana austrina) are coniferous (cone-bearing) trees of the high mountains near and at timberline. Needles are short and set in bundles of five. The needle-bundles are crowded onto the ends of twigs, and the bundles radiate in all directions from the twigs, giving the branch a "foxtail" appearance. The cones are purple and prickly when young, aging to reddish-brown and about 5-inches long.

While some people insist that Foxtail Pines grow in southern Nevada (e.g., Foxtail Picnic Area on Mt. Charleston), they only occur in the high mountains of California. There are two populations: one in northwestern California (Klamath Mountains, Northern Foxtail Pine) and the other in east-central California (Sierra Nevada Mountains, Southern Foxtail Pines).

Foxtail Pines are closely related to Great Basin Bristlecone Pines.

Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Needles are crowded into bottle-brushes

Family: Pine (Pinaceae).

Other Names:

Plant Form: Tall and straight or contorted tree; strongly tapered upward when young.

Height: Normally about 40- to 60-ft tall; maximum about 100-ft tall.

Trunk: Normally to 3-ft diameter; maximum about 7-ft diameter.

Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Young cone with bristles

Bark: Whitish on young stems; reddish-brown, scaly, fissured on mature trees.

Branches: Gracefully spreading or twisted and gnarled, depending on location.

Needles: Green outer face, white inner face; slightly curved; 1- to 1-1/2 inch long; bundles of 5; crowded, forming foxtail (bottle brush)-like branch ends.

Cones: Oblong, 3.5-inches to 5-inches long. Young cones dark purple, each scale tipped with a stiff, 1/4-inch long, incurved spine. Older cones age to reddish-brown, sometimes losing the spine.

Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Short needles in bundles of five

Seeds:

Habitat: Dry, rocky mountain slopes at high elevations.

Elevation: About 5,400 to 11,500 feet.

Distribution: Two isolated populations: northwestern California (Northern Foxtail Pine) and east-central California (Southern Foxtail Pines).

Comments: This species does not occur in the Spring Mountains.

Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Needle-bundles crowed onto the ends of branches
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Short needles
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Needles in bundles of five
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Needles white on inner surface
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Bottle-brush or foxtail twigs
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Young cones on tips of twigs
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Young (purple) and older cones (green/brown)
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Tree with lots of various-aged cones
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Young cone with bristles
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Young cone with bristles
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Young (purple) and older cones (green/brown)
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Varioius-aged cones
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Old cone found on ground
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Old cone found on ground
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Young tree strongly tapered
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Old tree with spreading, wind-swept branches
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Alpine habitat at timberline
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Alpine habitat at timberline
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina) Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina) Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)
Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina) Southern Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana austrina)

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 131003

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