Pinus densiflora

Japanese Red Pine




  • native to Japan
  • cold hardy to zone 4

Habit and Form

  • evergreen tree
  • often a multi-trunked tree, with broad irregular growth
  • up to 100 ft. tall, usually half that, with an equal spread
  • medium texture
  • slow growth rate

Summer Foliage

  • soft flexible texture
  • 2 needles per fasicle
  • margins serrate
  • needles twisted and roughly 3-4" long
  • bright green in color, looks like they are plastic
  • needles appear in bunches along the top of the stem

Autumn Foliage

  • no fall color (remains green)
  • needles persist 3 years


  • monoecious
  • no ornamental value


  • tawny yellowish brown cone
  • oval to oblong, roughly 2" long
  • found alone or in clusters
  • tree has a tendency to hold cones for a 2 years


  • young bark peels in thin scales to reveal a reddish color
  • older bark is gray, typically seen on the main trunk


  • needs well-drained and acid soil
  • full sun

Landscape Uses

  • interesting multi-trunked growth habit
  • good accent tree
  • great addition to a Japanese garden


  • not salt tolerant, can be a problem when planted near roadways
  • relatively slow growing

ID Features

  • needles in 2's, twisted, soft and serrated
  • bark peels to reveal a reddish color
  • tree has a fairly open, multi-trunked growth habit for a pine
  • bright green needle color with "plastic" look


  • by seed, no treatment is needed for good germination


'Globosa' - This plant becomes a dwarf rounded mound to 15' in many years. The needles are short and deep green, with a prostrate, slow-growing trunk.

'Low Glow', 'Little Christopher' (also known as 'Rezek's Witch's Broom Seedling') and 'Tiny Temple' (also known as 'Temple') - These are miniature forms that grow slowly and form tight mounds of deep green needles.

'Oculis Draconis' - A favorite among lovers of variegated foliage, the "Dragon's Eye Pine" is an unusual form that bears needles with alternating bands of green and yellow coloring. When viewed from the proper angle, the foliage resembes a "dragon's eye", thus the common name. It forms a large shrub or small tree.

'Pendula' - A strong weeper, this cultivar needs training or grafting to maintain it as an upright tree. Otherwise, it can creep over the ground as a prostrate creeper. The needles are deep green and the bark becomes reddish.

'Umbraculifera' (also known as 'Tanyosho') - Commonly known as "Tanyosho Pine", this is a popular form. It forms a multi-trunked tree or large shrub to approximately 20' tall and wide. The habit is vase shaped with an umbrella-like head that becomes flat-topped with age. The bark shows good orange color. It is often employed as a specimen or accent plant, though it can suffer severe damage from heavy snow or ice loading. The plant is cold hardy to USDA zone 3. 'Umbraculifera Compacta' and 'Jane Kluis' are dwarf forms of the cultivar with similar habit. They reach 4' to 6' tall.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

The digital materials (images and text) available from the UConn Plant Database are protected by copyright. Public use via the Internet for non-profit and educational purposes is permitted. Use of the materials for profit is prohibited.

Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.