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PINUS thunbergii 'Thunderhead'

Image of Pinus thunbergii 'Thunderhead'

James H. Schutte

Family

Pinaceae

Botanical Name

PINUS thunbergii 'Thunderhead'

Plant Common Name

Japanese Black Pine

General Description

This is a contemporary cultivar that improves on the signature pine of old Japanese gardens. The parent species is a native of eastern Asia and has been in cultivation since antiquity. Its incredible sculptural form on the windswept shores of Japan gave rise to the art of bonsai pruning, and trees are typically trained into contorted, naturalistic forms. But if grown in the average garden it takes on a rounded bushy shape, growing more irregular with age to expose its picturesque twisting branches. This pine bears its dark gray-green needles in pairs on branches bearing dark purplish gray bark.

In spring ‘Thunderhead’ produces upright, silvery, new shoots, displayed like white candles against the dark foliage. These later produce long brown cones. This tree grows in a wide range of soil types, provided they are well-drained. Like all Black pines, ‘Thunderhead’ tolerates a warmer climate, is not as drought- tolerant as many other species, and grows best with moderate moisture. It tolerates salt air and spray in coastal conditions but can be damaged by snow loads. This essential of the Asian garden belongs in all residential landscapes within its range, serving as a shrub or small tree, left natural or pruned in the Japanese style.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

  • Plant Type

    Needled or Scaled Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    5'-10' / 1.5m - 3.0m

  • Width

    5'-8' / 1.5m - 2.4m

  • Native To

    Eastern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Pyramidal

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Purple, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Fissured

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Screening / Wind Break, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No