Pinus caribaea

A great lumber tree adapted to hot climates

Caribbean Pine plantation

Caribbean Pine in Vichada

The third commercial lumber tree species Avicap cultivates is Pinus caribaea or Caribbean Pine. Originally from Mexico, Guatamala and Honduras, this tree is well adapted to sea level altitudes and to hot climates, like in Vichada. In all other respects it grows like most other species of pine. It tolerates sandy, well-drained and acidic soils, and can reach heights of 30 meters when allowed to grow. From a commercial point of view, Caribbean Pine cultivations require at least twenty years to mature, but produce a large amount of lumber for general carpentry, construction and other uses.

The tree is cultivated in grids of 3 meters by 2.8 meters, with approximately 1,250 trees per hectare. In the fourth year after planting a cull of 40% is recommended to open up the space for better growth of the more robust trees. The tree's evergreen needles are very long, up to 6 inches each, making it easy to recognize. Pinus caribaea does not grow well unless ecto-mycorrhizal fungi have been added to the soil first, usually something done early on in the tree nursery. These fungi provide a symbiotic relationship between nutrients in the soil and the pine's ability to assimilate those nutrients.

Uses for Caribbean Pine

The Caribbean Pine has uses other than lumber. It is also a principal source of turpentine. Its resin can be distilled into rosin used in adhesives, varnishes and inks. Pine sap can be harvested annually and used to produce biofuel. The cosmetic and health industries distill pine needles, cones, twigs and stumps for their aromatic oils. This tree produces softwood lumber, which makes it easy to immunize as the wood can be readily penetrated under pressure. Planting a Caribbean Pine cultivation requires an extra effort, but once established it can be very rewarding. It is a low maintenance tree, as it requires very little in the way of pruning.

  • Caribbean Pine is native to Central America and the Caribbean islands.
  • It adapts well to hot climates and sea level conditions like in Vichada.
  • Pinus caribaea can be cultivated in regular tree plantation settings.
  • Planted in densities of 1,250 trees per hectare, it needs 20 years to harvest.
  • Besides its well-known uses as lumber, it is the base of many other products.

A tropical pine tree

These evergreens are beautiful to look at!

There are different practices when cultivating Caribbean Pine. Some recommend planting when the tree is only 8 cm tall, since its roots develop quickly. Others like using large planting tubes, allowing the tree to develop to 40 or 50 cm in height in the nursery before planting in the field. The first two years after planting are the most delicate, after which the tree generally is very robust and resistant. The tree is relatively fast growing, considering that its pine cousins in Europe or North America need 80 to 120 years to accumulate the same amount of woody biomass in their trunks.

Tap roots on Caribbean Pine

Pinus caribaea has a strong central root that anchors the tree.

Protective mulch Caribbean Pine

Mulching around the pine trees helps conserve humidity in the dry season.

Pine germinating with fungi

Caribbean Pine likes having ecto-mycorrhizal fungi added to the soil.

Pino caribe seeds

Avicap purchases the best quality seeds possible for its plantations.