The male strobili of var. mastersiana are slender, cylindrical and drooping, while in the type variety they are stout, ovoid-ellipsoid and erect. The cone apophyses are reddish brown to brown, triangular and slightly recurved distally, while in var. armandii they are yellowish brown to yellow, rhombic, and recurved only at the umbo or not at all. Li & Keng 1994a, Fu et al. 1999c. Distribution TAIWAN. Habitat Mountainous regions between 2300 and 3000 m asl, with well-drained, acidic soils. USDA Hardiness Zone 7. Conservation status Endangered. Illustration Fu et al. 1999c; NT580, NT582, NT589. Cross-reference K210.
Pinus armandii var. mastersiana is the Taiwanese representative of its species, morphologically differing only slightly from the typical variety, into which it has some times been sunk by some dendrological authors (Dallimore et al. 1966, Bean 1976b). Its name commemorates the British botanist Maxwell T. Masters, now best known for his work on teratology, but in his time a recognised conifer expert. He died in 1907, shortly before Bunzô Hayata published the name. Due to its treatment in the past as a synonym it is not easy to pinpoint a date for its introduction, but it is inconceivable that it was not collected by early-twentieth century travellers in Taiwan: H.J. Elwes (1935) specifically mentioned seeing nutcrackers feeding on its seeds on his visit to Taiwan in 1912. The earliest tree identified as var. mastersiana traced in research for this book is an individual at Edinburgh, probably from C.N. Page 10106 (M. Frankis, pers. comm. 2007), accessioned in 1974. From the mid-1970s onwards, however, it has been regularly collected in Taiwan, by both Taiwanese collectors and westerners, although it remains relatively scarce, especially outside botanical gardens. In the 1970s it was gathered by Chris Page, from whose collections trees are growing at Benmore (C.N. Page 10058, 10109, 10316), and the variety is further represented in the Scottish botanical gardens (and others) by material deriving from the Edinburgh Taiwan Expedition of 1993 (ETE 39, 52, 62, 63, 65). The oldest trees at Kew and Wakehurst Place were grown from seed sent from the Taipei Botanic Garden and Taiwan Forestry Research Institute in 1979. At Kew one of these is currently about 12 m tall, forming a very attractive tree, although its wide-spreading branches suggest that it should be given ample space in which to develop its full potential. Var. mastersiana seems to thrive throughout the British Isles, but in colder climates may be less successful. A tree of wild origin at the Morris Arboretum is not very happy, suffering from winter burn and looking ‘rather thin’ by spring (A. Aiello, pers. comm. 2007). This is the only survivor of a group grown from seed received in 1983 from the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, suggesting that a more sheltered site is desirable if it is to be attempted in the Philadelphia area. With its long, slightly bluish needles and substantial cones, var. mastersiana is a very attractive pine, but for horticultural purposes it is not very different from var. armandii (although Keith Rushforth finds that it grows faster: pers. comm. 2007).