Identifying wilding conifers

Most wilding conifers in New Zealand are one of the species in the table below.

Or download our wilding conifers Quick ID Guide to High Country/Montane species.

Two species of wilding conifers are also important commercial crops: radiata pine and Douglas fir make up 96% of the plantation estate and are the main contributors to New Zealand's $4.3 billion in forestry exports. Their wildings however generally have no commercial value, as timber quality can be poor and sites too costly to harvest.

Common name

Latin name 

Description

Tree growth habit

Needles on each fascicle

Long/  short 60mm

Winter bud    Long/  short 10mm

Cone Colour reflexed scales

Large/   small 70mm

Spike on scale

Comments

 

Radiata pine

Pinus radiata

The most common commercial timber species, but can spread in lowland situations and affect native bush regeneration.

erect

3

long

 long

brown

large

 no

persistent branch cones

Ponderosa pine

Pinus ponderosa

Historically grown as an amenity tree in very dry areas where it often spreads.

erect

3

long

long

whitish

large

 yes

Cones shed annually

Corsican pine

Pinus nigra

Slower to mature than lodgepole or contorta pine, but can spread very large distances.

erect

2

long

 long

white/ whitish

 small

 no

Cones shed annually. No stalk on cone (cf. Scots pine)

Bishop (or Muricata) pine

Pinus muricata

(Pinus muricata)
Has a bluish tinge, are rarely grown for timber, but has spread from early trial sites.

erect

2

long

long

brown

 large

 long spike

persistent branch cones, v. prickly

Maritime pine

Pinus pinaster

Very large tree that often grows in association with radiata pine in coastal areas.

erect

2

long

long

brown, scales reflexed

large

 broad spike

stout needles, persistent branch cones

Lodgepole (contorta) pine

Pinus contorta

The most aggressive species with the youngest coning age and farthest spread. Has been declared an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993 since 2001, which means it cannot be bred, propagated, distributed or sold.

erect

2

short

 long

brown, often resinous

 small

very fine spike

Cones often persistent on branches, best diagnostic feature is scale spike

Scots pine

Pinus sylvestris

Bluish tinge, rarely grown for timber, has spread from early trial sites.

erect

2

short

short

brown, scales reflexed

small

 no

Cones with short stalk, shed annually. Silvery appearance to foliage

Mountain Pine

Pinus uncinata

 

erect

2

short

 short/long

white (resin)

small

 no

Cone scales can be very hooked

Dwarf mountain pine

Pinus mugo


A short bushy species that was planted in alpine areas, has spread slowly, but is very hard to kill.

many leaders

2

short

short/long

white (resin)

small

 no

10mm sheath on base of young needles

Douglas fir

Pseudotsuga menziesii

The second most common commercial timber species, but can spread rapidly in alpine areas.

erect

1

short in one plane

short

brown

small

 no

Cones soft and hanging down, with obvious bracts longer than scales

European larch

Larix decidua

A distinctive deciduous conifer, can be invasive in wetter areas.

erect

10+

short

short

NA

small

 no

Deciduous. Cones soft, persistent


 

Control methods

Learn methods for monitoring and controlling wilding conifers