The Story of the Largest Digger Pine

Digger Pine (some people prefer to call it the Gray or Foothill Pine) is native to 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.

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