Are Italian Stone Pines good choices for bonsai?

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You usually see them in garden centers around the holidays. Their pots are wrapped in some flashy wrapping paper, or dusted with glitter.(I hate it when they do that to plants.) I did manage to find a few without the glitter. Upon looking at one the other day, I noticed their trunks are very knobby. They mark them as either Aleppo or Stone pine, so it has me confused as to what species it actually is. Is this a good choice, or should I let it pass?
 

Vance Wood

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If I remember correctly Ernie Kuo has pretty good luck making some pretty decent bonsai of them.
 

jk_lewis

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I'm sure they can be turned into decent bonsai. However, I have yet to see one in 40 some years. I haven't seen Ernie's, though.

I know several relatively competent growers who finally threw up their hands and gave up. The needles for some reason turn very long after a few years in a pot.
 

Attila Soos

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The needles for some reason turn very long after a few years in a pot.

The species has two types of nedles: the juvenile type (short), and the mature type (up to one foot long), which develops after 6-10 years. I have one that is covered with juvenile needles, but at the end of each branch, there are just one or two mature needles, four times as long.


So, when you design a stone pine, don't do it based on the short needles. Imagine the needles being much longer, and design accordingly.

There must be a way to shorten those needles, but we don't yet know how to do it. Need more time and experimentation. Just like the Japanese needed time to figure out how to handle their native pines. Other than that, it's a very strong and vigorous pine.

I believe that there is a way to reduce the needle length of EVERY pine, but we only know the techniques for just a few.
 
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nathanbs

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You usually see them in garden centers around the holidays. Their pots are wrapped in some flashy wrapping paper, or dusted with glitter.(I hate it when they do that to plants.) I did manage to find a few without the glitter. Upon looking at one the other day, I noticed their trunks are very knobby. They mark them as either Aleppo or Stone pine, so it has me confused as to what species it actually is. Is this a good choice, or should I let it pass?
Aleppo and Italian Stone Pine are the same so both are correct. I have a pretty cool one that i will try and take a pic and post
 

Attila Soos

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Aleppo and Italian Stone Pine are the same so both are correct. I have a pretty cool one that i will try and take a pic and post
One is Pinus pinea, the other one is Pinus halepensis.
They are both from the mediterranean, but different species. The stone pine looks like a giant umbrella, when old. The aleppo pine can also grow into a giant, but somewhat different shape.

Occasionally one can find Pinus eldarica (or P. brutia eldarica) sold as small live trees. That is a turkish pine, that also loves the mediterranean climate. Neither of them are beginner material, although they may look cute.
 
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nathanbs

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well I guess I stand corrected. Although I wager that commercially here in Southern California they are the same tree with both names. I dont doubt that there are two separate species out there but they all look identical to me here. Whichever it is that is commonly sold here in So. California is super easy, it back buds like crazy, can survive in very shitty dirt or nice bonsai mix. Not nearly as tempermental as JBP. They are really really flexible. It takes a while for branches to ever hold shape. But i would recommend to beginners much more so than a JBP. To the contrary because of the mature needle length and the flexibility this tree is very difficult to bring to specimen caliber.
 
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bonhe

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I have one which being trained as informal upright. I've never seen its long needles even though I didn't pay much attention to it!
Bonhe
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Ernie Kuo did a 3-page article on them in Bonsai Today #59.
 

Attila Soos

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well I guess I stand corrected. Although I wager that commercially here in Southern California they are the same tree with both names. I dont doubt that there are two separate species out there but they all look identical to me here.
Yes, I suspect that some stores, such as Vons or Trader Joe may take liberties in naming these trees, and may use their common names interchangeably. I also noticed that the little trees look remarcably similar, regardless of what the name tag says.
 

milehigh_7

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Aleppo and Italian Stone Pine are the same so both are correct. I have a pretty cool one that i will try and take a pic and post

They are nothing the same really. They do however bear a resemblance to each other when very young. Very different growth patterns.
 

BigDave

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Is this a good choice, or should I let it pass?
Intrigued,

Good Choice for our area, buy them if the price is right.

Guys,
Interesting info above. Agree with Clyde they are quite different. Pinea has the mumps. uh I mean bumps on the trunks.

The juvenile foliage stays longer and much easier on Pinea, over halapensis, eldarica, canariensis, all seen often in so-cal nurseries.

The money is in those half inch long blue needles, which is something we just dont have much of here. Other parts of the County/world can grow all sorts of cool dwarf conifers, this is all we got, that and the true ceders.

I hope you will all give them a try, scrounge your local retalers the day after christmas for some dry/weak/cheap stock. they will come back !

Good luck,
big Dave
 

nathanbs

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They are nothing the same really. They do however bear a resemblance to each other when very young. Very different growth patterns.
This point had already been established please read all of the posts in the thread.
 

milehigh_7

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This point had already been established please read all of the posts in the thread.

I also apologize... sheesh some folks are sensitive when they are wrong. LOL
◔_◔
 

nathanbs

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I'm guilty of my own preaching as I should have put a winkey face to show that i was just being a smart a%* and wasn't upset. With that being said i'm not upset for being wrong I was glad to learn something new that day. However I do think that the same pine is commonly being sold commercially as both Aleppo Pine and Italian Stone Pine in So. Cal. By the way I already said this earlier in the post as well :)
 
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Stone Pine Bonsai at Fuji Bonsai Nursery

I've seen several nice Stone Pines at Roy Nagatoshi's nursery (Fuji Bonsai Nursery). He constantly sheers the trees to make sure the foliage stays juvenile and compact. If you can get out to Roy's place, it would be worth the trip.

JC
 
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