Pinus mugo

Swiss Mountain Pine, Mugo Pine




  • native to mountainous areas in Central and Southern Europe
  • cold hardy to zone 2

Habit and Form

  • evergreen dwarfed tree
  • dense shrub growth habit to multi-trunked tree
  • varies in size from 5 to 20', with equally varying spread
  • some specimens have reached 50' tall
  • medium texture
  • slow growth rate

Summer Foliage

  • rigid and slightly curved needles
  • needles in fasicles of 2's
  • margins serrate
  • needles 1 to 2" long
  • bright green color

Autumn Foliage

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


  • monoecious
  • no ornamental value


  • dark gray cone
  • ovoid, 1 to 2" long
  • held in clusters of 2 to 4, or found alone
  • tip of cone surrounded by a darker ring


  • gray
  • plated appearance, but does not peel
  • when leaves abscise, rough protuberances are left


  • prefers a deep, well-drained, loose soil, but also quite adaptable
  • sun to partial shade
  • easily transplanted
  • part of the new candles (spring growing shoots) can be removed to slow size increase and change shape; removal of older tissue by direct pruning yields varying results

Landscape Uses

  • groups or mass planting
  • possibly a good specimen
  • foundation planting
  • evergreen border
  • one of the few pines tolerant of some shade


  • scales can be a pest problem
  • shoot tip moth damages new candles
  • although often considered a dwarf, actually variability in size, so cultivar choice is critical

ID Features

  • needles in 2's, stiff and curved
  • protuberances left by abscised leaves
  • generally dwarfed appearance
  • small resinous buds, which are hard to see
  • dark ring around cone tip
  • bark is scaly


  • by seed, no treatment or dormancy is needed for good germination
  • cultivars are grafted on seedlings or by cuttings


var. mugo (also listed as var. mughus) - This is a low-growing variant that reaches 8' tall and up to twice as wide. Thus, small container plants carrying this name at nurseries will not stay small.

var. pumilio - A prostrate, open growing plant, this form can reach 10' wide and only a few feet tall. Small plants purchased under this name can be expected to grow large in time.

'Amber Gold' (perhaps the same as 'Pot O' Gold') - A mounding selection that is compact and slow-growing, this plant truly shines in winter. The needles turn orange-yellow in the cold months, fading to green once again as spring commences. This novel habit adds interest to the winter landscape.

'Mops' - A popular dwarf form (to 3' tall), this plant remains very tight and small naturally without pruning.

'Slowmound' - Another popular true dwarf selection (to 3' tall), this cultivar forms a dark green, dense mound and won't outgrow its planting space. Similar true compact clones include: 'Paul's Dwarf', 'Sherwood Compact', 'Valley Cushion' and 'White Bud'. The latter has bright white, resinous winter buds.

'Tannenbaum' - A larger grower, this plant forms a nicely pyramidal "Christmas Tree" shape with dense habit and deep green needles. It grows 10' tall with a spread of 6'. Its extreme hardiness, to USDA zone 2, makes it a good choice for a dwarf pine in cold areas.

'Teeny' - Perhaps the smallest form available, this selection exhibits very short needles and short growth to form a compact bun.

© 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.