A native of central Europe, Austrian pine was introduced to the US as a tough and cold hardy addition to our urban landscapes. It can attain heights of 80 to 120 feet high by 25-50 feet wide in its native environs, but usually attains a height of 40-70 feet and a width of 20-40 feet in the US. There are also several dwarf and miniature varieties that mature at lesser sizes. Austrian pine develops a dense conical shape when young becoming more open and flat topped with age.
The needles are in bundles of two’s and are 4 to 6 inches long. They are a shiny dark lustrous green and sharply pointed. Young candles emerge yellowish-brown and provide an interesting contrast in spring. The new needles usually persist for four years before dropping.
Fruits or cones appear alone or in clusters turning from green to brown and maturing in two seasons. The bark is a dark grayish-brown that becomes more fissured as it matures, with mottled ridges of gray or white and can be quite attractive, accented by winter snows.
Austrian Pine was once considered the hardiest of the pines able to be grown in sand or clay and tolerate urban, seaside and drought conditions. In recent years, diplodia tip blight and pine nematodes have severely damaged and killed entire screens and windbreaks. Diplodia is a tough disease to control, but a good cultural program of eliminating monocultures, or not planting too close together, pruning to remove diseased tissue, watering the root zone and not the foliage, and removal of fallen needles and cones is the best way to ensure the best performance from a worthy and attractive tree.