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Tree to 30 m, trunk straight or crooked, 1.2 m dbh. Bark smooth to scaly, greyish to blackish brown, developing irregular, shallow, longitudinal fissures. Crown initially conical, then irregular and open, often flat-topped. Branchlets smooth, yellowish then reddish brown or glaucous; vegetative buds pale brown, not resinous. Leaves in fascicles of five (or four), slightly twisted, blue-grey to glossy green, triangular in cross-section, 4–10 × <0.1 cm, apex acute. Leaf fascicles form tufts at the ends of the elongated branches. Fascicle sheaths minute, orange-brown. Cataphylls to 0.4 cm long, early deciduous. Female cones in whorls of three to four, peduncle stout, 0.5–1 cm long. Cones 7–13 × 5.5–7.5 cm, resinous, ovoid to conical, mature in about 18 months, deciduous. Scales oblong-obovoid, thick and woody; apophysis shiny brown, slightly swollen; umbo terminal, dark brown to black. Seeds ellipsoid-ovoid, 0.8–1.3 × 0.4–0.7 cm; wings short, pale brown, 1.5–2 × 0.5–0.8 cm. Li & Keng 1994a, Fu et al. 1999c, Businský 2004, Farjon 2005a. Distribution TAIWAN. Habitat Occurs in mixed coniferous or broadleaved forests in the Tsun-Yang Shanmo Range, on slopes and ridges between 300 and 2000 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 9. Conservation status Lower Risk. Illustration Li & Keng 1994a, Fu et al. 1999c, Farjon 2005a. Cross-reference K223. Taxonomic note Recent studies of the soft pines of Taiwan (Businský 2004) have revealed that there are two distinct species on the island, P. morrisonicola and P. uyematsui Hayata, with a hybrid P. ×hayatana Businský occurring where they meet, forming zones of introgression. Formerly regarded as a synonym of P. morrisonicola, P. uyematsui is similar in foliage but differs markedly in the slender cones, 8–18 cm long with thin scales, and smaller seeds, 0.6–0.8 × 0.3–0.45 cm, with a long slender wing 1.5–3 × 0.6–1 cm, quite unlike the short broad wing of P. morrisonicola. It occurs at higher altitudes (2000–2400 m) than P. morrisonicola, at least in the southern part of Taiwan (Businský 2004). Pinus uyematsui is not known to be in cultivation, but it is conceivable that collections from higher altitudes, such as ETE 581, could be this or the hybrid (K. Rushforth, pers. comm. 2007).
Pinus morrisonicola is potentially a very attractive tree, related to P. armandii and the other soft-needled Asian pines. Its blue-green foliage is shorter and less pendulous than that of most members of this group, however, and also very narrow. Its first introduction was probably through a collection made by Chris Page in Taiwan in 1976 (C.N. Page 10057), material from which is still in cultivation as part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s outhousing scheme. Edinburgh has been responsible for several further introductions, particularly through their Edinburgh Expedition to Taiwan of 1993, when several gatherings were made (ETE 91, 94, 581). At Tregrehan trees from ETE 581 have grown steadily. Less fortunate is a tree at Kew, grown from ETOT 109 (collected in 1992), that has lost its leader and is growing (apparently happily) as a horizontal shoot. In view of the resurrection of P. uyematsui from synonymy, it would be wise to check the identity of all Taiwanese soft pines as their cones are produced.