Scots Pine Announced as Scotland’s National Tree

The Scots Pine

The Scots Pine

Despite our campaign to have the Rowan crowned as Scotland’s national tree, we’re rather blue to report that the Scots Pine has officially taken out the title. Last year thousands of Scots voted for their favourite tree in a nationwide consultation, after a Glasgow tree-campaigner bought forward a petition to Scottish Parliament.

The most widely distributed conifer in the world, the Scots Pine can be found as far afield as Southern Spain and the Okhotsk Sea in eastern Siberia. The iconic tree can also be found in many of the songs and poems by Robert Burns, and is home to many of Scotland’s most loved animal species, including pine martens, red squirrels, capercaillies and the wildcat.

Scotland’s only native pine, the tree has distinctive orange coloured bark and blue-green foliage. It is thought that in some glens the more bent and multi-branched old “granny” pines were left by foresters, because they would prove more difficult to make use of in the sawmills when saws were still hand operated. These survivors acted as rich seed banks for the regeneration of the forest, with some identified as at least 600 years old.

The announcement provided leverage for Tory MSP Sir Jamie McGrigor to call on the government to apologise to Clan MacGregor, who suffered years of persecution at the hand of the Government and Crown. McGrigor pointed out that the pine is plant badge of Clan MacGregor, explaining that clansmen wore the badge in defiance after wearing tartan was outlawed following the unsuccessful 1745 Jacobite rebellion.

He stated there was also another reason for the clansmen adopting the tree. McGrigor said: “It was perhaps done more to protest about the loss of their clan name, taken away in the early 1600s, not by a Westminster Parliament but by a Scottish one. The clan is still awaiting an apology for that.”

The title of national tree is largely symbolic, however it provides recognition for the country’s native trees and forests which are under increasing threat from climate change, pests and disease. The Scots pine was the clear favourite in the public consultation, with more than 52 per cent (2,374 votes) of all responses opting for the tree. The humble Rowan came in at second place, with 15 per cent (687 votes), and Holly in third place with 7 percent (333 votes).

Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Scotland’s trees, forests and woodlands are some of our greatest and most treasured natural assets. We are rightly proud of them because they help make Scotland the fantastic country that it is.

“The Scots pine was an obvious choice and certainly the people’s choice.”


About Nadine Lee

Originally from New Zealand, Nadine is a documentary researcher now based in the north east of Scotland.

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