Pinus discolor – Border Pinyon

Pinus discolor - Border Pinyon (cone and leaves)

Pinus discolor - Border Pinyon

Pinus discolor - Border Pinyon

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Pinus discolor

Synonyms: Pinus cembroides, P. culminicola var. discolor

Common Name: Border Pinyon

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Evergreen

Growth Habit: Tree

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Upland (higher elevation), Mountain. This pine tree commonly grows in grassy pinyon-juniper woodlands.

Flower Color: Non-flowering

Height: 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 m) tall

Description: The needles are typically 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) long, in bundles of 3, dull green, lined with silver, and clustered near the branch tips. The pollen cones are small and yellow. The seed cones have thick, red-brown scales and when fully open, the cones resemble woody, brown roses. The seeds are brown, wingless, and very popular with birds and animals. The bark is brown and rough in older trees. The trees are monoecious and have a rounded growth form.

The similar Mexican Pinyon (Pinus cembroides) is not found in Arizona. Pinus discolor was formerly classified as Pinus cembroides, but it was reclassified as a separate species.

Special Characteristics

Edible – The seeds, known as pine nuts or pinyon nuts, are edible either raw or toasted. The cones mature in the fall of their second year.

Fragrant – The leaves and sap have a pleasant, resinous, pine smell.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Coniferophyta – Conifers
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae – Pine family
Genus: Pinus L. – pine
Species: Pinus discolor D.K. Bailey & Hawksw. – border pinyon

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map
Border Pinyon (Pinus discolor) – The Firefly Forest