The Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris; Family Pinaceae) is a common tree in Great Britain, but is also found from Spain to mid-Siberia and ranges as far north as Lapland. It was first planted in New Zealand in 1850-1852 and was well established in the South Island by 1860. In the past this species has also been known as "Scots Fir", "Scotch Pine", and "Scotch Fir".
The plant grows up to 35 m in height when mature. The cones are pointed ovoid in shape and are 5 to 8 cm in length. On old trees leaves are 5 to 7 cm long and occur in pairs, but on young vigorous trees the leaves can be twice as long and occur in threes and fours. The habit of the mature tree is distinctive due to its long, bare and straight bole topped by a flat-topped mass of foliage.
Scots pines are synonymous with the Caledonian Forest which once covered much of the Highlands of Scotland. It is thought that climate change, fire, man's fear of wolves, demand for timber and overgrazing by sheep and deer have all been factors in the decline of this once great pine and birch forest. Nowadays only comparatively small areas of this ancient forest remain, the main surviving remnants being Glen Affric, Rothiemurchus, and the Black Wood of Rannoch.