Pinyon pine

[pin-yuhn, peen-yohn, peen-yohn; Sp. pee-nyawn]

The pinyon (or piñon) pine group grows in the southwestern United States and in Mexico. The trees yield edible pinyon nuts, which were a staple of the Native Americans, and are still widely eaten. The fragrance of the wood, especially when burned, is unmistakable.

There are eight species of true pinyons (Pinus subsection Cembroides):

These additional Mexican species are also related and mostly called pinyons:

as are also the three bristlecone pines of the high mountains of the SW USA, and the Lacebark Pines of Asia.

Some of the species are known to hybridise, most notably P. quadrifolia with P. monophylla, and P. edulis with P. monophylla.

The Pinyon Jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) takes its name from the tree, and pinyon nuts form an important part of its diet. It is very important for regeneration of pinyon woods, as it stores large numbers of the seeds in the ground for later use, and excess seeds not used are in an ideal position to grow into new trees. The Mexican Jay is also important for the dispersal of some pinyon species, as, less often is the Clark's Nutcracker. Many other species of animal also eat pinyon nuts, without dispersing them.

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