California Pine Trees: 8 Evergreen Varieties

Pine trees are evergreen trees that grow all over the world. They are coniferous, meaning they produce cones and have needle-like leaves. California Pine trees are renowned for their stately beauty, hardiness, and easy care.

California is home to several varieties of native pine trees. Planting native trees and plants in your yard or garden is an excellent way to support the natural ecosystem. Pine trees prevent erosion with their deep roots. They provide habitats for squirrels, birds, and other woodland creatures. Pine trees also give off shade, which can offset energy cooling costs during the summer months.

California Pine Trees

Let’s look at a list of California pine trees.

Jeffrey Pine

Pine Trees of Pennsylvania

The Jeffrey Pine is a native species found primarily at high elevations. It is prevalent in both Northern and Southern California. The Jeffrey Pine grows best in shallow soil. It often grows in clay or in soil that is sandy or rocky.

The Jeffrey Pine has deeply furrowed red-brown bark. Its resin gives off an aroma of vanilla or pineapple. It grows to a height of 200 feet and can reach a height of 40 feet in just 20 years, making it a fast-growing tree.

Bristlecone Pine

California Pine Trees

The Bristlecone Pine is one of the most distinctive and well-known California pine trees. It is the longest-living non-clonal living organism on the planet. The oldest Bristlecone Pine is estimated to be almost 5,000 years old.

The Bristlecone grows just below the tree line in harsh conditions. It is incredibly tough and resilient. The Bristlecone is a medium-sized tree whose trunk can reach up to 11 feet in diameter. It grows mainly on exposed mountain slopes and ridges.

Monterey Pine

California Pine Trees

The Monterey Pine is known for its distinctive shape and branch growth. Its branches curve upward, and it has a twisted, knotty bark. The Monterey Pine is an endangered species that grows primarily on the Central Coast, around Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo. It thrives in the fog and cannot typically grow inland at high temperatures.

The Monterey Pine is a shorter, asymmetrical tree with bright green needles and a sparse branch pattern. The needles grow in groups of two and three and are about 3 inches long. The tree itself reaches a height of about 100 feet.

Ponderosa Pine

This pine is the most widespread in Western North America. It grows in the mountains, including the Cascades, Rocky Mountains, and the Sierras. The Ponderosa is very adaptable but grows best in deep, moist, richly fertile soil.

The Ponderosa’s bark color changes throughout its life, with young trees having very dark, almost black bark. As the tree matures, the bark fades to a russet-brown or yellowish color. The needles are olive green or yellow and appear in clusters of three. 

Bishop Pine

Bishop Pine has a limited territory, primarily limited to the coastal regions of Northern and Southern California and parts of Baja. It is drought-tolerant and favors dry, rocky soil. It grows well in captivity.

Bishop Pine is on the smaller side, reaching a maximum height of about 90 feet and a diameter of 30 feet. It often appears stunted and twisted, with contorted branches that spread and curve upward.

Foothill Pine

California Pine Trees

The Foothill Pine grows, as its name suggests, in foothills. It is most commonly found in the Klamath, Cascade, and Sierra Nevada foothills. The Foothill Pine grows in poor soil at an elevation of around 4,500 feet.

This pine tree is slow-growing and long-lived. It is a short pine, reaching a maximum height of 75 feet and a width of 40 feet. Its foliage is medium green and remains on the tree all year. The Foothill Pine grows most actively during the spring and summer.

Sugar Pine

The Sugar Pine is a very large tree capable of reaching a maximum height of 250 feet. It is a slender tree with a trunk only 3-5 feet in diameter. The cones of the Sugar Pine are some of the longest in the world, reaching a length of up to 26 inches.

The Sugar Pine grows best in coarse soil and can be found at any elevation, from sea level to 10,000 feet. It grows quickly, reaching a height of 40 feet or more in just 20 years. The name “sugar pine” is a reference to the sweet resinous sap the tree produces.

Shore Pine

The Shore Pine grows in Northern California. It is a fast-growing, tall pine tree that reaches a maximum height of 250 feet and can reach a height of 40 feet in less than 20 years. This pine tree thrives on the coast and is often found near beaches and sandy shores.

The Shore Pine is highly adaptable and can thrive in any soil condition, from boggy peat to rocky slopes. It is most commonly found on sandy hillsides. The Shore Pine is capable of tolerating salty and low nutrient environments.


If you are considering some native plants for your outdoor space, a native California pine is an excellent choice. Do your research to make sure you are planting a species that will thrive in your climate and soil. With proper care and maintenance, California pine trees will support the environment and bring you joy for many decades. Pine trees are generally considered to be fast growing