The pine is an evergreen, coniferous tree growing to a height of 5 – 15 meters. Throughout the Mediterranean Basin, the tree is regenerated only from seeds. The trunk has furrowed bark and when punctured it emits a very sticky, aromatic resin. The leaves are needle-shaped, about 10 cms in length and grow in pairs on very short branches.
About 105 species in the pine family grow world wide. The pine is the world’s main forest tree and, therefore, also the most mentioned tree. In Israel, only two-needle pines grow but elsewhere in the world there are many pine trees with 3 and 5 fascicles (bundles) at the tip of each short shoot. To define a pine tree, therefore, the number of needles in each shoot has to be counted.
All the pine trees in the world have a straight and usually tall trunk. The trunk is not rejuvenated after being cut down or burned. The pine is a very old species whose fossilized leaves were found in ancient times.
The pine is suitable for growth in poor soil, thanks mainly to the symbiosis between it and the land fungi. The fungus receives its food from the tree and draws water and minerals from the soil that the plant is incapable of absorbing directly through its roots. The pine absorbs these minerals from the fungus.
The Jerusalem [Aleppo] pine blossoms and flowers in the spring. The male cones are shed after the flowering while the female cones develop into fruit. The cone stays closed on the tree until a heavy sharav [hamsin], when it opens and its seeds are scattered.