Japanese Black Pine 'Thunderhead'

Pinus thunbergii

Family: Pinaceae (py-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pinus (PY-nus) (Info)
Species: thunbergii (thun-BERG-ee-eye) (Info)
Cultivar: Thunderhead
Synonym:Pinus thunbergiana




Foliage Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:



Grown for foliage



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Louisville, Kentucky

Annapolis, Maryland

Frederick, Maryland

Boston, Massachusetts

Dracut, Massachusetts

Royal Oak, Michigan

Asheville, North Carolina

Chesapeake, Virginia

Warrenton, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 20, 2013, johnebar from Woodfin, NC wrote:

I purchased the dwarf black pine thunderhead when it was 18 inches tall, 8 years ago. It is now over 8 ft tall and 10 ft wide at base. I was told it was a dwarf, however I think it is a regular black pine as it goes a foot a year and does not show any sign of slowing. When it was young I fed it aquarium water at the rate of 3-5 gallons every 3 weeks, plus regular waterings. I looked online and found out in order control this monster, I would have to trim the candle from every branch, Remember this pine multiplies each candle (read branch here) 8 times its size every year. I have hundreds of branches. I live in the mountains of Asheville, NC . This pine is the coolest tree I ever grown. I first saw it at the Biltmore Estate, and had to have one. I wish I could post a picture.


On May 19, 2013, tiqi from Birmingham, MI wrote:

I purchased this plant two years ago and it seemed to be doing well until this spring. Needles are largely turning brown and falling off and it is slowly dying. In addition to the fact it was expensive, its a beautiful plant and I don't want to lose it . Is there anything I can or should do to to save this plant?


On May 18, 2013, Gracye from Warrenton, VA wrote:

Mine's a trooper. I bought it two summers ago, in the heat of Virginia, after coming across it in the "TLC" lot in my favorite nursery.
It was a good size, at about 48" tall and round. Broader than tall, however. My husband and I dug a huge hole in our clay soil, threw in some amendments, and in went the newly named "Monroe." This Spring, it has obvious candles, and shows that it is adjusting well. The very top of it is gone, so that is why it was on sale, but we don't care. This pine can just do its own thing, which it is doing, in morning sun and afternoon shade. Has the most beautiful green color to it, and it has a personality!
Winter is a real treat for us with this Pine. Come what may, and it has already to Monroe, this Pine rewards with personality, sturdiness, and mod... read more


On Feb 1, 2013, paddleaddict from Chesapeake, VA wrote:

I found the below comment on another site. In order to encourage a wider range of planting I'd like to semi debunk, but not fully, information that may otherwise limit it's usage. Please note the following:

"This shrub should only be grown in full sunlight. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments"

The zip code 23322 butts up to the Great Dismal Swamp in Chesapeake, VA. My neighbor has a wonderful specimen growing in about 80% shade, in heavy clay, less than 6-7' from a drainage ditch that regularly/seasonly floods, on a ... read more


On May 27, 2010, Dekejis from Roswell, GA wrote:

Excellent plant - very showy candles.