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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):


Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Tree


  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

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


  • Dry sites,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Road salt

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

Seasons of Interest:

  • early winter,
  • midwinter,
  • late winter,
  • early spring,
  • mid spring,
  • late spring,
  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • 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.



Location of Pinus thunbergii (Japanese black pine) at the Arboretum

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