I've never had one of my potted pines produce seed cones before. I've seen pollen cones on my yamadori ponderosas (Pinus ponderosa) a couple of times, including this spring. I'm glad to see them because, besides being visually interesting, they indicate that the tree is at least in reasonably good health.
But if that's not a seed cone developing on a branch tip of my yamadori ponderosa, I don't know what else it can be. It looks like a cone, just smaller and less developed than it will eventually be. And even tho it's not usually the dominant color, there is purple in the color of ponderosa bark.
I first noticed this new cone a little over a week ago, and got pretty excited - even dragged my wife over to see it the other day. It's something new, and I take it as even more a sign of the tree's good health than the pollen cones a few weeks ago.
|First seed cone on my yamadori ponderosa. Presently about as long as my index fingernail.|
As if to say, "Hey, don't leave me out," one of my Japanese black pines (Pinus thunbergii) also appears to be setting a cone for the first time! It's smaller (which may mean younger), a little different in form, and more of a pale pink in color at this point. But I've little doubt of what it is, and I'm excited to see it too!
|New cone on one of my JBP's. Almost exactly in the center of the picture.|
Besides being at a certain minimum level of health, a tree has to reach a certain stage of maturity as well before it can produce seeds. According to what I can find, a ponderosa has to be at least seven years old to set seed and a Japanese black at least four. Since this ponderosa is close to 45 years old and this JBP at least 12, they're both easily old enough!
I'll post updates a time or two as the season progresses. From what I read, a ponderosa's cones take two year to mature, so the updates will continue next summer. I hope you enjoy this with me!
:-) :-) :-)