The Story of the Largest Digger Pine

Digger Pine (some people prefer to call it the Gray or Foothill Pine) is native to California’s foothills up to 4500’. Its botanical name is Pinus sabiniana. One of the most notable aspects of the Digger Pine is the huge cones.

The pine cones are very large and heavy and can be dangerous if one fell on a person’s head. But fortunately Dawn Gardens have several squirrels that love to eat the seeds and they break the scales off the cones so they can get to the seeds. The scales fall at the base of the tree one at a time along with the central core so they are not dangerous if they fall that way.

This is the trunk of the largest Digger Pine in Dawn Gardens. Jesse, my worker, is in the process of measuring the circumference of the trunk. I heard from Dr. Van Pelt of the University of Washington that the largest Digger Pine in the world is 17’ in trunk circumference and 87’ in diameter.

Our measurements show the Dawn Garden tree is 18’ 7” in circumference. Subsequent measurements by Joshua French, a student of native plants and large trees, show the tree to be 18’ 3” in trunk circumference and 109’ in diameter and over 100’ tall which makes it the largest Digger Pine in the world.

Digger pines are usually multi-trunked. My tree man, Jerome, spent 3 days up in the tree pruning, removing crossing branches, and clearing out the dead wood.

The vine growing up the trunk is a variety of the California grape called Roger’s Red (Vitis California ‘Rogers Red’). The leaves turn red in the fall before they drop.

img_7753Dr. Van Pelt from the University of Washington and representing ‘American Forest’ Magazine visited on July 23, 2020 to officially measure the tree with accurate and modern equipment and he found that the tree has an 18′ 3″ circumference and is 101′ wide and 135′ tall and is officially the largest Digger Pine in the world.

Dr. Van Pelt mentioned that this tree is the only largest tree of any type that he knows of that you can drive right up to on a paved road.

A recent wind storm knocked down a large branch and the stub had to be cut off. Compare the size of the stub to the size of the tree man:

It is still the largest Digger Pine in the world

The tree makes a beautiful silhouette against the sky.



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