Pinus mugo - Mugo Pine
Family: Pinaceae

Hear the scientific name

Pinus mugo is known as a spreading, slow-growing evergreen shrub with ascending branches and relatively short needles. Mugo Pine is used at foundations and entranceways, on embankments, within rock gardens, as a facer shrub, as formal or informal hedges, and in raised planters. It often gets larger than intended, but is tolerant of pruning or shearing.

F   E   A   T   U   R   E   S
  form Form

-small- to medium-sized evergreen shrub (in most cases)

-ultimate size is highly dependent upon the cultivar, but the smallest cultivars ultimately mature at about 1.5' tall x 3' wide, and the largest selections in the nursery trade can eventually become very large shrubs (10' tall x 15' wide)

-upright mound or upright flat-top growth habit, spreading at an early age

-slow growth rate

foliage Foliage

-2 needles per bundle, from 1-2" long, persisting for up to 5 yrs., maturing to a dark green color


-ornamentally inconspicuous cones



-small cones are relatively rare


-attractive light green candles (vertical stems with miniature needles) emerge in spring

-twigs mature to be rough (needle-scarred) and black-brown branches with age, often concealed by the dense and long-persistent needles

trunk Trunk

-dark gray, broken into plates on larger specimens, often unseen as the plant is normally a shrub that branches and foliages to the ground

C   U   L   T   U   R   E


-full sun to partial shade

-very adaptable to poor soils, clay soils, sandy soils, dry soils, soils of alkaline pH, and is tolerant of moderate shearing

-propagated by seeds, grafts, or rooted cuttings

-2 serious pests (pine sawfly larvae and pine needle scale) that can be controlled with appropriate monitoring when they occur

-abundantly available, primarily as relatively compact cultivars in container form, but also in B&B form for the larger selections

-newly emergent growth (candles) can be sheared back halfway for even more dense and formal growth the following year

-can be left unpruned if it has ample space to grow in a sunny location, since it is naturally a dense and low-branching shrub, but it is often sited at foundations, and therefore by habit and necessity regularly sheared into a rounded or flat-topped shape


-zones 2 to 7


-native to the Alps in Europe (where it takes on a mixture of shapes and sizes that range from large shrubs to large trees [up to 80' tall])

U   S   A   G   E


-low branching and dense evergreen foliage occur to the ground

-attractive candles (new stems) are held prominently above the flat-topped, mounding, or rounded shrub

-slow growth rate (an asset since it is often sited at or near foundations)


-most "dwarf" cultivars get much larger than advertised with age

-2 serious pest problems: pine sawfly larvae (alarming cosmetic chewing damage) and pine needle scale (subtle long-term damage that leads to plant decline if untreated)


-foundation, entranceway, group planting, embankment, facer, specimen, raised planter, or hedge evergreen shrub

-Mugo Pine should be used more often as an embankment cover, as its shallow root system and spreading growth habit will combine, over time, to create a solid evergreen cover in sunny, exposed areas

-Mugo Pine can also be used as an effective non-thorny barrier hedge, and either formally sheared to the desired height and width, or informally left alone


-medium texture

-thick density

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-evergreen globed shrubs of various foliage color (Picea omorika 'Nana' [blue-silver-green], Pinus strobus 'Blue Shag' [blue], Thuja occidentalis 'Hetz Midget' [green])

-evergreen spreading shrubs (cultivars of Juniperus chinensis, Rhododendron, Taxus x media, etc.)

-naturally table-topped, vased, or flat-topped evergreen shrubs (Pinus densiflora 'Umbraculifera')


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