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Pinus caribaea - Morelet

Common Name Caribbean Pine. Caribbean pitch pine
Family Pinaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Hillsides and plains at low elevations from sea level to 600 metres[331 ]. Found in a wide range of forest and savannah habitats, often as a pioneer species, for instance after fires, where it can create pure stands[320 ].
Range Central America - Nicaragua to Mexico. Caribbean - Bahamas, Cuba
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Pinus caribaea Caribbean Pine. Caribbean pitch pine

Pinus caribaea Caribbean Pine. Caribbean pitch pine
wikimedia.org / Mike Gifford from Ottawa, Canada


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Pinus caribaea is an evergreen Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Birds, Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Pinus hondurensis Loock

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses: Gum

Seed - raw or cooked[299 , 303 ]. The seeds are narrowly ovoid, up to 6mm long and 3mm wide[299 ]. A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood[200 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Antibacterial  Antifungal  Antirheumatic  Antiseptic  Antitussive  Diuretic  Kidney  Poultice  
Rubefacient  Skin  Vermifuge

The leaf oil is sometimes used for medicinal baths[303 ]. The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge[4 ]. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections[4 ]. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB[4 ]. Applied externally, it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers[4 ]. Hexane extracts of the bark have shown strong antifungal and antibacterial activity[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Adhesive  Charcoal  Fuel  Gum  Mulch  Paint  Paper  Resin  Shelterbelt  Soap making  Soil reclamation  Soil stabilization  Tannin  Wood

Design: Seaside; Coastal street tree; Public open space; Accent; Specimen; Xerophytic. Agroforestry Uses: In many places where the tree grows, the mat of needles on the ground is considered valuable for the protection of the soil surface from erosion[299 , 303 ]. In Sri Lanka, a massive reforestation programme was undertaken with plantations of this tree to convert heavily eroded lands on which nothing else could be grown. It is the only species so far successfully used to clothe barren eroded and denuded lands with a tree cover[303 ]. The trees are grown to provide shelter from the wind[299 , 337 ]. The needles contain a substance called terpene, this is released when rain washes over the needles and it has a negative effect on the germination of some plants, including wheat[201 ]. Other Uses The tree, especially the sapwood, can be tapped for oleoresin. This is a pale yellow, clear and sticky mass, becoming brittle on evaporation. It is a hydrophobic substance soluble in neutral, non-polar organic solvents such as dry ethyl ether, hexane, and other petroleum solvents. On distillation it yields gum rosin (75%) and turpentine (25%)[299 , 303 ]. Turpentine is a liquid mixture of mainly terpene hydrocarbons and terpenoids. It is used in paint and batik industries[299 ]. Gum rosin is a brittle solid, insoluble in water, but soluble in many organic solvents. It consists primarily of a mixture of abietic and pimaric-type acids. It is used in the production of paper, soap and glue[299 ]. The bark contains tannin; about 10% can be extracted and dried to a reddish powder soluble in water[299 , 303 ]. The heartwood is yellowish to reddish brown; it is demarcated from the 5 - 10cm wide band of white or yellowish sapwood. The grain is straight, texture medium to coarse; growth rings are distinct; numerous resin canals are present and clearly visible as straight brown streaks on longitudinal surfaces. Wood properties show large differences between sites and between trees. The wood is moderately light in weight to moderately heavy, that from slower-growing trees from natural stands has a higher density and lower resin content than the wood from faster-growing trees from plantations; it is soft to moderately hard; moderately durable, being susceptible to marine borer and termite attacks, but resistant to powder-post beetles and fungi. Resistance to insect attacks increases with increasing resin content. The wood air dries well, but end splits may occur. It works and finishes well with hand and machine tools, although resin may clog and gum up tool edges and surfaces. It takes nails and screws particularly well and glues satisfactorily. The wood exudes much resin, which makes it less suitable for certain uses such as joinery and flooring. However, resin-soaked wood is popular for boat decking, because of its high durability. Its low timber density and other poor properties render the timber unstable for structural work or even furniture. It can be used for shuttering, temporary applications and packaging, and it is useful for turnery, toys, moulding and other novelty items. It is also suitable for interior trim, veneer, plywood, piles, vats, particle board and fibre board. Transmission poles made from this wood are popular in Tanzania and Malaysia, among other places[299 , 303 , 316 , 848 ]. The presence of long tracheids makes this species (and other pines) a good source of wood pulp. Plantations at 15 years are ideal for pulpwood production. The tree is used in Nicaragua and Honduras for general-purpose pulpwood. Wood pulp is also used for the manufacture of particleboard, fibreboard and chipboard[303 ]. Being a fast-growing species, it can be used for fuel wood for both industrial and home use. However, it throws out sparks when burning[299 , 303 ]. It is also sometimes used to make charcoal[299 ]. The energy value of the wood is 20,300 kJ/kg[299 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Management: Standard  Regional Timber

A plant of the moist tropics where it is found at elevations from near sea level to 1,500 metres[303 ]. It grows in areas where the mean annual temperature is in the range 22 - 37°c, and the mean annual rainfall is 1,000 - 3,000mm[303 ]. It grows best in frost-free areas at elevations up to about 700 metres in more fertile sites with good subsoil drainage and an annual rainfall of 2,000 - 3,000mm[303 ]. Grows best in a sunny position[320 ]. Soils are usually loams or sandy loams, sometimes with high amounts of gravel and generally well drained[303 ]. It can tolerate seasonal waterlogging[320 ]. The tree prefers a pH in the range 5.0 - 5.5, but can tolerate a range from 4.3 - 6.5[303 , 337 ]. It tolerates salt winds and hence may be planted near the coast[303 , 320 ]. The tree has been widely planted throughout the tropics, and has often escaped from cultivation[305 ]. It is considered to be an invasive weed in some areas[305 ]. A fast growing tree, generally averaging more than 1 metre increase in height per year when young[299 ]. Bole straightness generally improves from the subtropics towards the tropics[299 ]. Young plantations usually start bearing female cones when they are 3 - 4 years old but these do not produce fertile seed owing to the inadequate supply of pollen at this age, unless older plantations adjoin the site[303 ]. Initial spacing when growing in plantations depends on the markets for which the pine is being grown and the technique used in tending the plantation. Mechanical cultivation requires a spacing of at least 3 metres between rows, but close spacing is possible within rows. When it is grown for pulpwood, a spacing of 2 x 2 metres is used to give maximum stem production of suitable sizes in the shortest time possible without thinning[303 ]. Pruning is recommended to reduce fire danger, improve form, improve access within the crop, and reduce the size and frequency of knots, especially in saw logs[303 ]. In plantations grown for pulpwood on a short rotation of 10 - 15 years, there may be one early cleaning thinning at 3 - 4 years old to remove malformed trees, or no thinning at all[303 ]. Where both saw logs and pulpwood are being produced, a heavy thinning at 10 years for pulpwood may leave an open crop for logs saw harvested during the second thinning at 17 years[303 ]. The tree can be effectively tapped for oleoresins from when it is 10 years old and has a bole diameter of at least 20 cm[303 ]. An average of 25 g per tree per day of oleoresins can be tapped[303 ]. The tree is rated as moderately fire resistant[303 ]. Can be attacked by termites.

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Materials, chemicals and energy include bioplastics, rubber, biomass products gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, butane, propane, biogas. Plants are usually resprouting plants and saps.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Timber  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - germinates in 8 - 12 (max. 21) days without pre-treatment[303 ]. However, they are often soaked in cold water overnight, followed by 2 - 3 days of cold storage at 4 - 5°c[303 ]. Mechanical sifting of seed before sowing to eliminate hollow and defective seed can also improve germination considerably and make it possible to sow single seeds directly into containers instead of first sowing them in germination beds[303 ]. Collection of cones can start as soon as they begin to change from green to brown on the tree; collecting cones earlier that this may give seeds with short viability[303 ]. Seeds can be extracted from cones opened in the sun by raking them over as they lie open on the tarpaulin[303 ]. Seed storage behaviour is orthodox; viability is lost within 1 year in hermetic storage with seeds at room temperature with 13 ± 2% mc; no loss in viability during 2 years hermetic storage at room temperature; no loss in viability after 5 years of storage at 0 - 5°c with over 8% mc; hermetic storage at 4.5% mc recommended; about 16% viability lost after 2.7 years of hermetic storage at 8°c[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

English: Caribbean pine tree; Caribbean pitch pine; Cuban pine; Nicaragua pine; Nicaraguan pine; pitch pine; yellow pine Spanish: ocote blanco; pino amarilo; pino antillano; pino caribaea de Honduras; pino caribeño; pino colorado; pino de la costa; pino hondureño; pino macho French: pin caraïbe; pin de Cuba; pin des Caraïbes; pin jaune; pin mâte Chinese: jia le bisong Local Common Names Australia: Bahamas pitch pine; Honduras Caribbean pine; Honduras pine; southern pine Bahamas: Bahamas pine (var. bahamensis); Caribbean pine-tree (var. bahamensis); yellow pine (var. bahamensis) Belize: white pine; yellow pine Cook Islands: paina papa’a Costa Rica: pino caribe Cuba: Pino amarillo; pino macho (var caribaea). El Salvador: pino caribeño Fiji: Fiji pine (var. hondurensis) Germany: Kiefer, Karibik- Guatemala: ocote blanco; pino de Petén Honduras: pino de costa Italy: pino dei Caraibi Mexico: pino amarillo Samoa: paina Tonga: paini

Africa, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Central America*, China, Colombia, Cuba, East Africa, Fiji, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mozambique, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Rotuma, SE Asia, South Africa, South America, St Lucia, Sudan, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Classified as an invasive species causing serious problems to natural habitats in Bangladesh, Brazil, Australia, the Cook Islands, Hawaii, Guam, New Caledonia and French Polynesia (Oppenheimer, 2003; Afrin et al., 2010; Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 2010; Simberloff et al., 2010; PIER, 2013). P. caribaea is a fast-growing tree that grows forming dense monocultures over extensive areas of land displacing native vegetation and altering hydrology, nutrient cycling, and fire regimes (Richardson, 1998, 1998b; Simberloff et al., 2010).

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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