44. Digger Pine

(Pinus sabiniana)

Other Common Names: Gray Pine, Foothill Pine, Ghost Pine ,California Foothill Pine, Bull Pine, Nut Pine

Family: Pinaceae

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Southwest of the flagpole above Odegaard Library are two Digger Pines. Their coarse-barked, candelabrum trunks sport a light garb of long gray needles in bundles of three and large, squat, cantaloupe-sized cones, dark against the branches. Like Coulter Pine, these pines are native to California, where they stand out ghostly pale in the foothills. Their cones contain big edible "pine nuts", an important food for the native people of California. Gray pine is an apt, descriptive name, but little used. The specific scientific name commemorates Joseph Sabine (1770-1837), secretary of the Horticultural Society of London, an attorney, naturalist, and patron of David Douglas (of Douglas-fir fame).

Digger pine is drought tolerant but cannot grow in the shade. The wood is light, soft and brittle and is not useful as lumber. The pitch was used as an adhesive and the twigs and rootlets was used as a sewing material for coiled and twined baskets. An essential oil called abietine is obtained by distilling the resin and is used as a cleaning agent and insecticide.

[Leaves and cone of Digger Pine]

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