Austrian Pine, an evergreen conifer, is native from western Europe to Asia Minor including Austria in central Europe, for which it is named. It has been widely planted in eastern and midwestern North America because of its bold texture, fullness of foliage, dark-green needles, and adaptability to urban conditions.
In youth, Austrian Pine has its limbs and foliage drape completely to the ground, but at maturity, its lower limbs are usually absent, and thus its trunk is exposed to continuous sunlight. When this happens, its bark takes on a checkered appearance, sometimes with black and white irregular bands, strips, or platy blocks. In addition, its crown becomes spreading and open, rather than dense and tightly pyramidal.
In open situations, Austrian Pine may grow to 60 feet tall by 40 feet wide, with a medium growth rate. As a member of the Pine Family, it is related to other Pines as well as the Firs, Larches, Spruces, and Hemlocks.
Planting Requirements - Austrian Pine is one of the most adaptable pines to a wide variety of environmental conditions. It prefers soils that are moist and well-drained, but adapts to heavy clay soils that are moist and at times poorly drained, or sandy soils that are moist and salty. It is one of the best pines for tolerating winter salt spray to its foliage, salt deposition around its root zone, and soils of alkaline pH and is therefore an excellent pine for roadsides and city streets. It grows in zones 3 to 7, and can be utilized as a solitary specimen or in mass plantings, such as for windbreaks and visual screens.
Potential Problems - Austrian Pine is the pine that is most susceptible to Diplodia tip blight, a disease that will slowly kill the tree over several years, and can wreak havoc in mass plantings as it spreads from a single infection to the surrounding trees. Affected branch tips die every year, and the disease progresses to surrounding branches every year, creating dead sectors with persistent brown needles.
The best method of control is yearly inspection of the branch tips, with removal of affected branches or implementation of an annual spray program in spring. Alternatively, infected trees can be entirely removed. Austrian Pine is also subject to pine nematode, a microscopic pest transmitted by a beetle. This results in blockage of the vascular systems and can quickly kill the tree, even in one growing season.