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Colorado Pinyon Pine Pinus edulis


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Alternate name: Two-needle Pinyon

Family: Pinaceae, Pine view all from this family

Description Low bushy tree. Crown broad, irregular, rounded. Trunk short and crooked. Branches large, crooked. Bark irregularly furrowed, scaly. Needles paired, moderately stout, 3-5.5 cm. green. Cones globose, 3-5 cm. green at first, ripening yellow-buff. Scales thick, typically 5-10 fertile scales. Cones open 4-6 cm. holding the seeds on scales after opening. Seeds 10-14 mm. thin shelled, white endosperm, and vestigial 1-2 mm. wing.

Dimensions Height: 4.6-10.7 m. (15-35 ft.)
Diameter: 0.3-0.6 m. (1-2 ft.).

Habitat Canyons & valleys, Grasslands & prairies, Mountains, Scrub, shrub & brushlands.

Range Plains, Texas, California, Rocky Mountains, Southwest.

Discussion Edible seeds, pine nuts, collected throughout the range; in many areas, the seed harvest rights are owned by Native American tribes, for whom the species is of immense cultural and economic importance. One early legend asserts that the "tree of life" is a pinyon pine, rooted in ancient cultural sites found within areas of Pinyon (PiŅon) Canyon, Colorado.
The Pinyon Jay plucks seeds out of open cones and stores many for later use as a food resource. Some stored seeds are not used and are able to grow into new trees.