TREES & plants

Japanese black pine

Branches of Japanese black pine.

Japanese black pine has a striking, irregular form accented by its dark, lustrous green needles. This Asian native is very tolerant of salt spray and soil salt, but It may be difficult to find in nurseries.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name: 
Pinus thunbergii
All Common Names: 
Japanese black pine
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet), 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet), 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
Mature Height: 
20-80 feet
Mature Width: 
20-35 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil, 
  • Sandy soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Marginally hardy, 
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter, 
  • Mid winter, 
  • Late winter, 
  • Early spring, 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall, 
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Pyramidal
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Tolerant of heat and drought.

Disease, pests, and problems

Pine wilt and Zimmerman pine wilt are potential problems..

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Japan and Korea.

Bark color and texture 

The bark is dark gray and broken into rough plates.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Leaves are evergreen needles, 2 per bundle and 3 to 5 inches long.  The needles are densely crowded and slightly twisted.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male and female flowers in separate structures on the same tree (monoecious); inconspicuous.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruits are woody brown cones, 2 to 3 inches long.

Cultivars and their differences

Majestic Beauty® Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii 'Monina'):  The full-sized cultivar (40 to 50 feet high) has a dense habit and very dark green needles.

Thunderhead Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii 'Thunderhead'):  A dwarf cultivar that grows to about six feet high in ten years.



Pinus thunbergii or Japanese black pine

We do not seem to have this in our living collection.