Macedonian pine seeds were first received at Mustila in 1907 from a Bulgarian forester. They had been collected in the Rila Mountains which, despite their southern position, have low average temperatures, and where the snow only melts in June. The species grows in the Balkan mountains as a relict from before the last Ice Age. In addition to Bulgaria and Macedonia, it also grows around Lake Prespa in Albania.
Mountain pine grows naturally in the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Carpathians and the northern Apennines, as well as in the mountains of the Balkans at elevations 1000-2200m, above the tree-line. It forms thick park-like woods or impassable thickets, which prevent erosion and avalanches and provide protection for many other life forms.
Lodgepole pine is native to a narrow belt stretching north-south in the Rocky Mountains of western North America. It is rather narrow-crowned, with needles in bundles of two, distinguishable from the native Finnish species (Pinus sylvestris) by the former’s longer, thicker, twisted and paler green needles. The lodgepole’s bark is thin and dark grey, similar to that of the native Finnish spruce (Picea abies) and lacking the typical orange-red colour and plate-like (in age) bark of Finnish pines.
The Arolla pine (P. cembra) is divided into two subspecies, the Swiss stone pine (P. cembra subsp. cembra) of the central and eastern European mountains, and the Siberian pine (P. cembra subsp. sibirica), which grows over a large range in Siberia, east of the Urals. These subspecies are separated by thousands of kilometres, but to the eye they differ only in the slightly longer cones and the shininess of the buds of the Siberian.
The pines (Pinus) are one of the dominant genera in the northern hemisphere, including more species than any of the other conifers and having the most widespread range of all the tree genera. Even when the deciduous species are included, only the oaks come close.
The red pine grows naturally in the north-east of the United States and in eastern Canada, as well as around the Great Lakes, areas climatically similar to Finland; it is one of the most promising exotic pine species. The red pine doesn’t grow particularly large but is extremely beautiful. The trunk is reddish, like the native species P. sylvestris, whose common name Scots Pine is rather misleading; the needles are very much longer, up to 15 cm, and persist four to five years.
Dwarf Siberian pine is a shrubby species with long needles in bundles of five, beautiful blue-green above and green below, like its close relatives the Siberian and Korean pines (P. cembra ssp. sibirica and P. koraiensis). It is native over a large range in north-east Asia in open snowy areas or on rocky mountain slopes above the tree line. In the Sikhote-Alin mountains it grows with Siberian cypress, (Microbiota decussata), forming impassable dense thickets. It usually grows to 1-2m tall, occasionally taller in the wild.
When sembra or stone pines are mentioned in Finland the reference is almost always to the Siberian (P. cembra subsp. sibirica), occasionally the Alpine (P. cembra subsp. cembra) subspecies. The Korean pine is a very close relation but comparatively rare in Finland. They are all similar, the biggest difference being in the cones.
Jack pine is a smallish irregularly shaped tree with brown-grey bark, a broad crown and short, stiff needles. Old trees are often full of cones because they aren’t dropped when the seeds ripen. Usually it takes the heat of a forest fire to make them open and drop their seed.