Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
Family: Pine family (Pinacae)
Type: Pines (Pinus)
The tree of the year in Germany is annually chosen by the Kuratorium "Baum des Jahres" (site available in German only).
The scotch pine, tree of the year 2007, is in itself not rare at all - but only rarely it stands on the places that are particularly attractive for it. The scotch pine is naturally displaced by other tree species to problematic habitats because it tolerates almost everything if it only receives much sunlight. So it is mainly displaced to extreme habitats, as e.g. sour and/or wet bog habitats, dry resp. nutrient-poor sandy soils or climatically difficult mountain habitats.
In such habitats, in the course of time coveted pine origins may emerge, e.g. the "Bamberger Hauptsmoorkiefer", a pine with very consistent annual ring structure, what is very sought in the woodworking industry and is accordingly rewarded or the "Selber Höhenkiefer", a variety of the tree of the year 2007 with very slim crown and accordingly impervious to snow breakage in winter.
Apart from the danger of snow breakage especially for the broad-crowned plain pine, the tree of the year 2007 is quite impervious to almost everything: Drought, heat, frost, insects, fungi etc. There are indeed insects which have adapted particularly to the pine (e.g. the common pine shoot beetle - an insect which actually only leads to consistent loss of needles of certain sprouts in monocultures, what then just looks like a gardener would have been at work with fine branch shears). Or a fungal disease, the pine resin-top rust, which only occurs at the pine and causes particularly much resin to be composed. Out of that, in medieval times the known pine chips were gained.
The pitted wood is relatively durable and is therefore also durable without impregnation for a time. The root system is a deep so-called stake root system, which makes the tree impervious to windthrow.
The scotch pine is recognized by the black-brown round cones, with the relatively narrow and long cone flakes as well as by the needles always coming out of the sprouts in pairs. And already from a distance older pine trees can be recognized very easily by the twofold bark figure: The bottom stem area has a very rude, thick and dark bark. The upper stem area however has a thin reddish bark. Because the pine bark detests weather influences well and the tree species is also for the rest comparatively impervious, it is, as the only tree species ever in the forestry, planted as reserve trees on a grand scale. That means that the other tree species of a forested area are indeed utilized, whereas the pines are left distinctly longer; these reserve trees can then e.g. be used together with the second left wood generation, whereby it can become particularly thick and impressive.
The tree of the year 2007 has always been multiply utilized: Especially in poor regions litter using was often practised, that means, the needles were raked from the forest floor and used as bedding for cattle sheds, thats where by the way the typical rake on the Franconian crest comes from. Then the cones were used to fire, which led to a variety of German names: "Kiefernzapfen", "Kienäpfel", "Kumutschen" etc. However, today they are at best still used for crafting, or now and again as a natural barometer resp. hygrometer: At times of upcoming drought the cone flakes open in order to release the seeds, at times of upcoming precipitation the cone flakes close.
Even today in some areas the pine resin is gained in a big way and used for industrial purposes. Sure, and finally the wood, of course: Actually much too good for burning, although the fuel value is distinctly higher than the one of the spruce. But be careful with the open chimney because pine wood 'squirts' very heavily because of the high amount of resin. The reddish pitted wood is frequently used for rustic furnitures, but also for the boarding of peasant parlours. Next, probably everybody knows the wooden racks from the hardware stores which are also sometimes out of pine wood. Apart from that, pine wood is very popular amongst coffin manufacturers or window producers, provided the annual rings are preferable evenly narrow.