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A plant varying in height from a scrubby bush to a tree 20 to 45 ft high in this country, but said sometimes to become 70 to 90 ft high in N. America; young shoots without down; terminal buds egg-shaped, 1⁄3 in. long, encased in resin. Leaves in pairs, persisting two to four years, 1 to 13⁄4 in. long, flat on one side, convex on the other, dark green, much curved; leaf-sheaths about 1⁄6 in. long. Cones pointing forward, slender, conical, but very much curved at the tapered point; about 11⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 in. wide at the base before opening; yellow when ripe.
Native of Canada and the N.E. United States. It is the most northerly of pines, and is spread over a vast region, usually in poor soil; introduced early in the 18th century. It appears to be very well adapted for poor sandy soil, and has been planted in great numbers in Germany on that account. It has not much to recommend it for gardens. Among pines with short leaves in pairs and with resinous buds, this is to be distinguished by its slenderly tapered cones, curiously curved like a bent little finger at the apex.
P. banksiana grows in a few British collections, where the oldest trees are up to 70 ft in height and 3 to 41⁄4 ft in girth (51⁄4 ft at Blairquhan, Ayrs.).
specimens: Wakehurst Place, Sussex, 70 × 4 ft (1982); Nymans, Sussex, 72 × 4 ft (1985); Blackmoor, Hants, 75 × 41⁄2 ft (1982); Blairquhan, Ayrs., pl. 1916, 59 × 6 ft (1984); Fairburn House, E. Ross, 82 × 33⁄4 ft (1982).