lodgepole pine cones

Asked October 14, 2016, 5:57 PM EDT

Why does it seem that lodgepole pine cones seem to grow only at the top of the pine? We have a number of these trees in Breckenridge, CO., and I've notices few or any pine cones on the lower limbs. Thanks!

Summit County Colorado trees and shrubs

1 Response

Pines have male and female cones -- the male cones are the ones responsible for releasing the big clouds of pollen in late June, and then they drop off. They are small and not that noticeable. They are usually concentrated at the bottom of the tree. The larger, female, seed-producing cones (the ones you notice) are at the top of the tree so they can catch the pollen of other trees when it is released (Karl J. Nicklas at Cornell University has discovered that female pine cones are “aerodynamically designed to filter large amounts of pollen from the air.” ). Having the female cones at the top allows for cross-pollination and for maximum seed dispersal (and probably maximal sun resources as well).