Pinus cembra

Swiss Stone Pine




  • native to mountains of Europe and parts of Asia
  • cold hardy to zone 3

Habit and Form

  • evergreen tree
  • narrow dense pyramidal form when young
  • more open and somewhat flat-topped with drooping branches when mature
  • 25 to 35' tall by 10 to 20' wide
  • medium to fine texture
  • slow growth rate

Summer Foliage

  • 5 needles per fasicle
  • approx. 3" in length
  • blue green to light green needles
  • stiff, straight, dense, needles, but soft to the touch
  • stomatal lines on underside of needles
  • serrated margins
  • needles are twisted

Autumn Foliage

  • no fall color (remains green)
  • needles persist up to 5 years


  • monoecious
  • no ornamental value


  • violet brown cone
  • ovoid to elongated oval, 3" long
  • cones remain on tree after maturing, approx. 3 years
  • cones remain closed


  • new stems covered with orange-brown pubescence
  • mature branches are dark


  • prefers a well-drained, loamy soil
  • plant in open areas in full sun
  • transplants well
  • resistant to most pests and diseases
  • needs little pruning for a strong structure

Landscape Uses

  • grouping or mass plantings
  • good accent tree
  • stays in scale to landscape for long time
  • possibly as a screen because of narrow canopy, but cost/availability of multiple plants is an issue


  • slow growth, although this can be an asset
  • relatively uncommon, hard to locate

ID Features

  • small to medium-sized tree
  • needles in 5's, with stomatal lines on underside
  • serrated margins
  • new stems covered with orange-brown hairs


  • by seed, seed stratification can be benefical


'Nana' - A slow-growing form, this plant features a pyramidal habit to 20' tall. Otherwise it is similar to the species. 'Pygmaea' is an even smaller form with needles tufted in congested growths.

'Columnaris' (perhaps the same as 'Chalet') - The most common form of the species, this plant has blue-green needles and a dense, narrow fastigiate form. More than one form may reside under this name.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.