Pinus patula Schiede ex Schltdt. & Cham.

Mexican weeping pine

Family: Pinaceae
54º 34.973N
5º 56.109W

The tree tag number relates to the black tree-maintenance tags, usually fixed on the trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.

The Mexican weeping pine is a native of the highlands of Mexico. It has been planted as a timber tree in South Africa, India and Argentina but can become an invasive species in some places. In Hawaii and Malawi it is invading mountain grasslands. It is not only a valuable timber tree but also produces a resin from which turpentine can be produced. The turpentine is said to have medicinal properties and the needles yield a green dye. 

This is a 3-needle pine (compare with 2-needle pines such as Pinus sylvestris and Pinus nigra, and 5-needle pines such as Pinus wallichiana all of which are also in Belfast Botanic Gardens). The buds are long and narrow and the sheaths of the fascicles (the bunches of three needles) are up to 30mm long. The needles typically hang down either side of the branch. The cones are curved and very hard. This attractive tree has an RHS Award of Merit. The young specimen in Belfast Botanic Gardens, visible from the Ulster Museum cafe windows, has not yet produced cones.

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2015. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.