Saturday, September 29, 2012

Afghan Pine

The Afghan Pine (Pinus eldarica) is also known as Desert Pine, Eldarica Pine or Mondell Pine. Afghan Pine is native to low rainfall areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Russia. In fact, when planted in areas of high rainfall (> 20” per year), it becomes susceptible to a number of diseases and rapidly declines. This problem has occurred in East Texas.  The Afghan Pine thrives in heat, wind, and tolerates drought. Afghan Pine must be planted in soils with good drainage like sand. It is not suitable for poorly drained heavy clasy soils.

Afghan Pines are generally pyramidal or Christmas tree shaped in form when young

becoming more oval or irregular with age.

The leaves of the Afghan Pine are evergreen needles usually found in groups of 2 per fascicle or sheath.

Needles are shed after several years and make excellent mulch as they fall around the trees base.

It has attractive trunk bark that becomes dark and furrowed with age.

Afghan Pines can add 1′-2′ new growth per year and reach 40′ tall and 15′-20′ wide. Afghan Pines are useful as specimen trees, windbreaks, or visual barriers.

The Afghan Pine is best grown in full sun on well drained soils with low to regular water. It is hardy to USDA Zone 6.

Contact Trees That Please Nursery for availability and pricing.

Photos & Narrative By:
Stephen Sain
Staff Plant Physiologist


  1. I remember the very first time I ever heard of this pine. It was 1974 and I was reading an article from the San Diego Union Tribune. The article was about this unique pine tree and the common name they used was Mondell Pine, I believe after the Botanist who tagged it first. But the article also spoke of a Topper Tree Farm in Sedona Arizona where it was first being grown.

    The article was intriguing and I went to visit this tree farm by driving a Ford Pinto all the was there from El Cajon CA. They gave me a great tour, explained their biggest customer was Saudi Arabia who wanted to plant trees on some arid mountains in the west near the Red Sea to attract more rainfall. This of course was based on observations of areas where vegetation was removed and rainfall patterns decreased. The price for each tree grown, specially packaged and shipped by Air was $15.00 each. Quite a price for a Nursery plant where it was common even at many retail nurseries fetched only $1.99 a one gallon potted tree.

    Beautiful tree. I often unconsciously thinking about it when I see scenes of the horrible state of affairs on the news items on War in Afghanistan. I think of the potential for turning that landscape around and making things productive for those folks. Unfortunately multiple oppressive ideologies disagree.


    1. i've been looking for one-gallon afghan pine trees, but i can't find them except at home depot where they're selling them for $6.98 a pot. could you please tell me name of retail nurseries that might sell them for $1.99. i'd like to plant a lot of them on the perimeter of my two-acre property.

  2. I wonder how those trees are doing today? Love to know if they were a sucess story?

  3. I'd really like to know as well, but you know, those were also in the days of conventional science of chemicals and Green Revolution where utilizing mycorrhizae and beneficial bacteria wasn't ever thought of. They certainly are not native to that area and I can't think what if any in the way of beneficial Ecto Fungus may have been there. I've tried to Google info, but have yet to find anything.