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Pinus merkusii - Jungh. & de Vriese

Common Name Sumatran pine, Merkus Pine
Family Pinaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats A pioneer species, it inhabits a wide range of forest and savannah habitats[303 ].
Range E. Asia - China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Pinus merkusii Sumatran pine, Merkus Pine

Pinus merkusii Sumatran pine, Merkus Pine
mohd fahmi on Flickr


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Pinus merkusii is an evergreen Tree growing to 50 m (164ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Pinus finlaysoniana Wall. Pinus latteri Mason Pinus merkiana Gordon Pinus sumatrana Jungh.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood[200 ]. The seeds of all Pinus species are more or less edible, and some are of good size and make very tasty and nutritious foods, often eaten in quantitiy. Others can be less desireable, either having a strongly resinous flavour, being bitter or, more commonly, rather too small and fiddly to make it very worthwhle even trying to eat them, We have no specific information of the desireability of this species, though they are rather small (the size given includes the shell)[K]. The dark brown seeds are 6 - 7mm long[329].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

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 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: A pioneer species, its natural range is extended by colonization following disturbances such as fire[303 ]. It grows, for instance, scattered in fire-prone grassland and woodland[303 ]. The trees are increasing in number in recently disturbed areas[303 ]. The tree is often used for the rehabilitation of degraded areas because of its tolerance to fire and poor soil conditions[325 ]. The tree has been successfully intercropped with Irish potatoes[303 ]. The tree is used to shade out alang-alang grass with fairly good results[303 ]. 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 A good quality oleoresin is collected from this species, often on a plantation scale[303 ]. The species is a high resin yielder and commercial tapping is often practised[325 ]. The resin is used in paints, medicines, printing and the perfumery industry[598 ]. The resin-rich wood is used as torches[598 ]. The heartwood is yellowish to orange brown with dark red veins and numerous resin canals, darkening on exposure to light; it is clearly demarcated from the 2 - 5cm wide band of whitish to creamy white sapwood. The texture is moderately coarse; the grain straight; the surface lustrous when freshly cut but becoming dull with age; there is a resinous odour and a faint resinous taste. The wood is moderately heavy; soft to moderately hard; fairly durable and not easily rotting in the soil according to some reports[46 , 303 ], but non-durable and liable to termite attack according to others[316 , 848 ]. It seasons quickly with little risk of checking or distortion; once dry it is moderately stable in service. The wood saws easily and works to a good finish, though resins may clog cutters and tools. The timber is a general-purpose softwood, useful for light construction, joinery, window frames, door frames, flooring, furniture, matches, chop-sticks, paper pulp, long fibre pulp, pit props, transmission poles, ship- and boat construction, vehicle-building, containers, boxes[46 , 303 , 316 , 325 , 404 , 848 ]. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal[404 ]. Industrial crop: hydrocarbon

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Hydrocarbon  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

A plant of the moist tropics, where it is found at elevations from sea level up to 2,000 metres[303 ]. It grows in areas where the mean annual rainfall is in the range 1,000 - 2,800mm, occasionally to 3,500mm, and the mean annual temperature is 21 - 28°c with a mean maximum temperature of the hottest month of 24 - 32°c and a mean minimum temperature of the coldest month of 18 - 24°c[303 ]. Pines grow naturally in South-East Asia only in strongly seasonal environments[303 ]. A strongly light-demanding species[303 ]. Tolerant of a wide range of soils, including dry sandy soils, gravely soils, red tropical loams (latosols), clay soils, alluvial soils and acid ultisols on sandstone which are often poorly drained[325 , 404 ]. It is often found on poor quality, acid soils[598 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 5.5, tolerating 4 - 6.5[418 ]. Established plants are drought tolerant[598 ]. The plant is very wind tolerant[404 ]. Young plants are quite slow-growing for their first five years, but later grow more rapidly[598 ]. Harvesting of the resin can start about 15 years after being planted out[598 ]. Trees can yield 3 - 4 kilos of resin a year, with some reports claiming that older trees can yield up to 30 - 60 kilos of crude gum a year[404 ]. Old trees can yield 30 - 60 kg of crude gum per year, producing 20 - 40 kg of pure resin and 7 - 14 kg of turpentine per year[325 ]. In plantations, trees reach sexual maturity when about 20 years old. They bear cones every year, although seed production varies[303 ]. In plantations, the first thinning is usually carried out in the 9th or 10th year, and about every 5 years thereafter. Rotation cycles of 30 years are needed for optimal timber production[303 ]. For the production of pulpwood, a cutting cycle of 15 years is usually practised[303 ]. Mycorrhizae are required for successful growth and to allow seedlings to survive in more adverse sites[303 ]. The prolonged 'grass stage' often present in young trees means increased weeding requirements when compared to P. Caribaea, P. Oocarpa and P. Kesiya[303 ]. This is the southernmost occurring pine of all pines, and the only one whose natural distribution extends into the southern hemisphere[303 ]. Merkus pines of the Asian mainland and the Philippines differ slightly from those of Sumatra: the seedlings have a 'grass stage', the needles are slightly longer, the cones are less cylindrical, and the seeds nearly twice as heavy[303 ].

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 Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - no pre-treatment is required, although germination can be sped up by soaking the seed overnight in cold water prior to sowing[303 ]. Seeds germinate in 8 - 21 days[303 ]. A germination rate of 40 - 60% may be expected[303 ]. After about 8 months, nursery bed grown seedlings are 20 - 25 cm tall and ready for planting into the field[303 ]. Successful natural regeneration is only possible where a relatively large amount of sunlight reaches the ground[303 ]. Only cones that have just changed their colour from green to brown should be collected and air dried[303 ]. Pine seeds can usually be stored for several years, provided they are kept dry, cold and in an airtight container[303 ]. However, seeds of this species are reported to have a rather short viability; seeds from Sumatra can be stored dry for only 1 - 2 years, and those from continental Asia for an even shorter period[303 ]. Propagation by tissue culture is possible. Suspensor, root tissue and hypocotyl segments of 2-week-old seedlings of P. merkusii have been used, and they all readily yield callus when cultured on a Murashige and Skoog mineral formulation supplemented with naphthalene acetic acid (0.25-0.65 ppm) and benzylamino purine (1.0-2.0 ppm)[303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Thông nhua, Thông hai lá (Vietnamese); Tusam Sumatera (Indonesian); Sumatran pine.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Indonesia; Philippines; Lao People's Democratic Republic

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.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Vulnerable B2ab(ii,iii,v)

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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.


Expert comment


Jungh. & de Vriese

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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