The Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana) is a contorted conifer tree while growing along the coastal cliffs of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve near Del Mar, California, but will grow tall and straight when away from the harsh elements of the coast. It is identifiable by its crown of pine needle-covered branches and bears large, symmetrical pinecones. The pine nut seeds from the Torrey Pine cones are edible and were harvested as an important food source by early Native Americans of the area, such as the Kumeyaay.
The current distribution of the Torrey Pine tree is sparse and limited to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and Santa Rosa Island where it is protected at Channel Islands National Park.
The Torrey Pine is the rarest conifer tree in North America and was in danger of total eradication during San Diego’s early settlement as it was being cut and used for firewood. Efforts in the 1880s to set aside land to protect the tree were successful resulting in the eventual creation of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve just above Torrey Pines State Beach.
To learn more about the history of the park or to get involved with Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, visit the Torrey Pines Docent Society’s website.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jon Rebman, SDNHM
PHOTO CREDIT: Renato Rodriguez, SDNHM