Dwarf Mountain Pine (Pinus mugo)

Pinus mugo pine gets its latin name from the Italian word, mugho for '"dwarf”. True to this name, this is a low-growing, shrubby pine that is often planted in domestic gardens and containers as specimens or ground cover. It can be recognized mainly by its low height which rarely grows above your knee. It has dark green foliage, and needle-like leaves like its larger pine relations.

Photo credit: Colin McAlister

As the common name suggests the dwarf mountain pine is a tough little plant with its cylindrical needles designed to exist in dry, cold windy locations like its native habitats in the mountains of central Europe.

Pinus mugo is also used as an ingredient for cooking. When cones and buds are picked in spring and left to dry they drip syrup, which can then be boiled down to a concentrate and combined with sugar to make pine syrup for drizzling over your cereal or deserts. Pine syrup is also said to be a natural remedy for Bronchitis and the common cold so what a great time to introduce you to this little plant!

Photo credit: Paul Hunter

Despite being given the Award of Garden Merit in 1993 for outstanding excellence as a plant in the UK, the pinus mugo is classed as an invasive species in New Zealand, Denmark and other Scandinavian areas. Thus proving the saying that a weed is just a plant in the wrong place!

Where to find it?

Although evergreen, most pines are not very good screening plants. Their crowns broaden and break up with age and they lose their lower branches. But pinus mugo needles are held on the tree for more than four years making them a very dense and consistent little plant for creating spaces and breaking up views in the landscape. This is one of the reasons why we planted many of them in on the drumlins in C.S. Lewis Square. Next time you are visiting our bit of Narnia in east Belfast remember that these dwarf mountain pines feel at home on top of our grassy drumlins which are similar to their dry and exposed homelands…

Photo credit: Aaron Matchett


Be Part of it…

Keep an eye out for our dwarf pines, pick up a cone and put on a windowsill where you can see if it produces any syrup for you.

Don’t forget to send us your pictures and requests for plant information.