COMMON NAMES: Kail, Biar, Blue pine
Local name: Chee, Gashi
Tree to 50+ m tall with a straight trunk and short, downcurved branches. Branches longer in solitary trees, creating a dome-like crown. Bark on young trees smooth, becoming fissured with age. Branches in regularly spaced whorls, smooth. Young shoots glaucous, later turning pale grey-green, smooth, ribbed, darkening with age. Winter buds grey with an orange tinge, ovoid-conic, pointed. Leaves in fascicles of 5, basal sheaths deciduous, 15-20 cm long, often curved at the base, slender, flexible, abaxial side green, adaxial side with multiple bluish-white stomatal lines; usually pendant but in some trees spreading. Male strobili on lower branches, often in dense clusters on younger twigs. Female cones in groups of 1-6, 20-30 cm long, erect when young but later pendant [see photo], bluish-green when young, maturing to light brown with pale brown apophyses. Cone scales wedge-shaped, wide near the apex, apophysis grooved, ending in a blunt umbo; basal scales usually not, or only slightly, reflexed, very resinous (Farjon 1984).
Widely spread throughout Gilgit-Baltistan. Himal: southern flank, from Afghanistan through Pakistan, India, Tibet (China: Xizang), Nepal and Bhutan to Burma. Found in valleys and foothills at elevations of 1800-3900 m, sometimes in pure stands but often in association with conifers including Cedrus deodara, Abies pindrow, Picea smithiana and polycarpous, and with broadleaved species including Quercus semecarpifolia, Betula utilis, ard Acer and Ilex species. It may also be associated with the more narrowly distributed pines Pinus kesiya and P. roxburghii. It is shade-intolerant, thus early seral (Farjon 1984, Sahni 1990, Singh and Yadav 2000). Hardy to Zone 8 (cold hardiness limit between -12.1°C and -6.7°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).