pine

Introduction

pine, common name for members of the Pinaceae, a family of resinous woody trees with needlelike, usually evergreen leaves. The Pinaceae reproduce by means of cones (see cone) rather than flowers and many have winged seeds, suitable for wind distribution. They are found chiefly in north temperate regions, where they form vast forests. The family was apparently more abundant in the mid-Cenozoic era, but it has maintained its population better than other gymnosperms because the trees are more adaptable to cold, dry climates; the reduced leaf surface and deep-set stomata minimize loss of water by transpiration. The family is the largest and most important of the conifers, providing naval stores, paper pulp, and more lumber by far than any other family. In some localities almost pure stands occur, permitting economical lumbering of large numbers of a given type of tree. Of the family's nine genera four are widely dispersed throughout North America and the Old World. Members of all nine genera are represented in horticulture as introduced timber trees or ornamentals. The so-called kauri pine, although pinelike in appearance, belongs to another family (see monkey-puzzle tree).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Plants