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Pinus densiflora: Japanese Red Pine Growing Guide

Pinus densiflora (Japanese Red Pine) is a Tree which grows to a height of 15 m and a width of 7 m. It has a moderate growth rate. It has a hardness rating of 5.

Japanese Red Pine will flower in December. the seeds ripen from July to August

The flowers from this plant are monoecious (both sexes are found on the plant but each flower is either male or female) and they are pollinated by wind.







15 metres


7 metres


E. Asia - China, Japan, Korea.

How to Grow Pinus densiflora

Soil Information

Japanese Red Pine will grow in light (sandy),medium (loamy), soil. It is / is important for the soil to be well drained.

The soil prefers the following PH / acid levels :

  • pH of less than 6, Acidic soils
  • pH between 6 and 8, Neutral soils

Japanese Red Pine prefers either dry or moist soils

Ideal Planting Locations

Korean Red Pine should not be planted in shady areas. Hills and low mountains all over Japan.

Planting places suited to this plant described below.

  • Grows within a woodland garden
  • Is suited as a canopy tree

Cultivation Details

Thrives in a light well-drained sandy or gravelly loam. Dislikes poorly drained moorland soils. Established plants tolerate drought. Leaf secretions inhibit the germination of seeds, thereby reducing the amount of plants that can grow below the tree.

The plant is quite fast growing when very young but this soon tails off and the tree is then quite slow growing. Cultivated for its wood in Japan, but it is unlikely to be a worthwhile timber tree in Britain.

Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilised seed usually grows poorly. They hybridise freely with other members of this genus. Hybridised in the wild with P. thunbergii. There are many named forms of this species. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Edible Uses*

* See disclaimer

Edible Rating: 2/5

Seed - raw or cooked. Quite small, it is only 4mm long. The oil-rich seed has a slightly resinous flavour. The male catkins can be eaten. Inner bark - dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread.

An emergency food, it is only used when all else fails. Immature female cones - baked. A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood.

  • Condiment - the various plants that are used as flavourings, either as herbs, spices or condiments.
  • Flowers -
  • Inner bark - the bark that is found just beneath the tough outer bark of trees and shrubs.
  • Seed - includes nuts, cereals, peas and beans.
  • Seedpod - things such as Okra, French and Runner beans.

Medicinal Uses*

* See disclaimer

Medicinal Rating: 2/5

The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections.

It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB.

Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers.


It is best to sow the seed in individual pots in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if this is possible otherwise in late winter. A short stratification of 6 weeks at 4°C can improve the germination of stored seed.

Plant seedlings out into their permanent positions as soon as possible and protect them for their first winter or two. Plants have a very sparse root system and the sooner they are planted into their permanent positions the better they will grow.

Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90 cm. We actually plant them out when they are about 5 - 10 cm tall. So long as they are given a very good weed-excluding mulch they establish very well.

Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance. Cuttings. This method only works when taken from very young trees less than 10 years old.

Use single leaf fascicles with the base of the short shoot. Disbudding the shoots some weeks before taking the cuttings can help. Cuttings are normally slow to grow away.

Known Hazards

The wood, sawdust and resins from various species of pine can cause dermatitis in sensitive people.

Other Uses

A tan or green dye is obtained from the needles. The needles contain a substance called terpene, this is released when rain washes over the needles and it has a negative effect on the germination of some plants, including wheat.

Oleo-resins are present in the tissues of all species of pines, but these are often not present in sufficient quantities to make their extraction economically worthwhile. The resins are obtained by tapping the trunk, or by destructive distillation of the wood. In general, trees from warmer areas of distribution give higher yields.

Turpentine consists of an average of 20% of the oleo-resin and is separated by distillation. Turpentine has a wide range of uses including as a solvent for waxes etc, for making varnish, medicinal etc.

Rosin is the substance left after turpentine is removed. This is used by violinists on their bows and also in making sealing wax, varnish etc. Pitch can also be obtained from the resin and is used for waterproofing, as a wood preservative etc.

Wood - a useful timber tree in Japan, but it is unlikely to be of much value in Britain. The timber is used for construction, poles, and furniture.

  • Dye - Plants that provide dyes.
  • Herbicide - Plants or plant extracts that can inhibit the growth of other plants.
  • Wood - A list of the trees and shrubs that are noted for having useful wood.


Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.

  • Bean. W.
  • Author: Bean. W.
  • Publisher : A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
  • Date of Publication: 1981

Flora of Japan. (English translation)

  • Ohwi. G.
  • Author: Ohwi. G.
  • Publisher: The standard work. Brilliant, but not for the casual reader.
  • Date of Publication: 1965

The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.

  • Huxley. A.
  • Author: Huxley. A.
  • Publisher: Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
  • Date of Publication: 1992

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Gary Clarke

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