Scots pine

Latin name: Pinus sylvestrisScots pine

Gaelic name: Guibhas

Size: Up to 80m tall

Where: Inchcailloch; Glen Falloch – north of Derrydarroch cottage; Coille Coire Chuilc

When: All year round

You may be surprised to find out that our own Scots pine is actually the most widely distributed conifer in the world – growing in places as far apart as southern Spain and northern Scandinavia, and from Scotland to Siberia.

Mature Scots pines are trees of character. Their high, spreading branches, ruddy, gnarled and fissured bark, and velvet-green needles are a world away from the uniform columns of conifer plantations. Some have even become celebrities – like the Fairy Tree near Aberfoyle, which is said to harbour the spirit of the Reverend Robert Kirk, who was abducted by fairies in 1692!

Pine forests provide shelter and food for many of Scotland’s most iconic species – capercaillie, black grouse, wild cat, pine marten and red squirrel, for example. In medieval times pine forests stretched across most of the Highlands. Sadly there is now only 1% of the original forest still standing. The rest has been felled over the centuries for man’s use. The trees have found it hard to regenerate on their own because of the many sheep and deer that now graze the hillsides where the forests once stood, eating the young trees before they can get established. With the loss of the forest has come declines in many of the species that rely on them.

Happily, Scots pines are now being replanted all across Scotland in an attempt to bring back at least part of the Great Forest of Caledon.

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Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods