A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Calabrian Pine

This years pine cone in the making.

Pinus brutia, the Turkish pine, is a pine native to the eastern Mediterranean region. The bulk of its range is in Turkey, but it also extends to the East Aegean Islands of Greece, the Crimea, Iran, Georgia, Azerbaijan, northern Iraq, Western Syria, Israel, Lebanon, andCyprus. It generally occurs at low altitudes, mostly from sea level to 600 metres (2,000 ft), up to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) in the south of its range.

Turkish pine is also known by several other common names, Calabrian pine (from a naturalised population of the pine in Calabria in southern Italy, from where the pine was first botanically described), East Mediterranean pine and Brutia pine.

Pinus brutia is a medium-size tree, reaching 20–35 metres (66–115 ft) tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1 metre (3.3 ft), exceptionally 2 metres (6.6 ft). The bark is orange-red, thick and deeply fissured at the base of the trunk, and thin and flaky in the upper crown. The leaves (needles) are in pairs, slender, mostly 10–16 cm long, bright green to slightly yellowish green.

The cones are stout, heavy and hard, 6–11 cm long and 4–5 cm broad at the base when closed, green at first, ripening glossy red-brown when 24 months old. They open slowly over the next year or two to release the seeds, opening to 5–8 cm broad. The seeds are 7–8 mm long, with a 15–20 mm wing, and are mainly wind-dispersed.

Turkish pine is host to a sap-sucking aphid Marchalina hellenica. Under normal circumstances, this insect does no significant damage to the pine, but is of great importance for the excess sugar it secretes. This sugar, "honeydew", is collected by Honeybees which make it into a richly flavoured and valuable honey, "pine honey" (Turkish, çam balı), with reputed medicinal benefits.

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