Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) is a conifer native to northern Europe that forms a tall, fairly narrow, dome-shaped tree. It's the only pine native to the UK, where it grows on heathland in the south of the country and in the Scottish highlands. Once the Caledonian pine forest covered much of Scotland, but now only small areas of this valuable habitat remain. Scots pine is long-lived and mature trees can be several hundred years old.
Scots pine bears evergreen, needle-like leaves that are blue-green in colour and grow in pairs. The bark is orange-brown, scaly, and develops deep cracks and fissures as it matures. Both male and female flowers are borne on the same tree – male flowers are long and yellow, and clustered at the base of shoots, while red-brown female flowers are shorter and globular, and form on the shoot tips. Female flowers mature the following year to form woody, grey-brown cones around 5cm long.
Mature Pinus sylvestris trees reach 30-35m in height with a spread of 6-12m in around 30-50 years. They're therefore not suitable for most gardens, though there are some named, cultivated varieties which are much more compact in habit and more suited for garden planting.