Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) is a tall 25 m aromatic evergreen tree with needles (leaves) in groups of three, and whorled branches and woody cones.
  • It is used for softwood plantations worldwide.
  • It is a threat to Mediterranean ecosystems worldwide and in Australia it invades a wide variety of open dry ecosystems.
  • Seeds are equipped with wing like structures and can travel up to a km on the wind as well as being dispersed by native wildlife such as Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos.
  • Controlled by physical and chemical methods and mechanical  means.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) is a tall, aromatic, evergreen tree with a straight trunk and many whorled branches. The bark is rough due to deep fissures and vertical ridges on older trees, bark dark brown or grey, or black brown. Leaves in groups of three, 8–15 cm long, (except on the binata variety (Pinus radiata var. binata) when they often occur in bundles of two), leaves slender, grass-green. Winter buds 12–18 mm long, resinous, scales deciduous (falling). When growing in a coastal environment the trunk may divide into several stems create a wide crown. Radiata Pine has been recorded growing over 65 meters tall in plantations in the Aire Valley in the Otways in Victoria, but in coastal environments it is generally much smaller. 

This plant has no flowers but produces male and female cones on the same tree which occur singularly, paired or in whorls around the branches. 

The cylindrical soft male cones  are much smaller than female cones, clustered at the branch tips and are only present for a limited time, falling from the tree after large amounts of pollen is shed in to the air, dispersed via wind. 

Female cones are solitary or in clusters, shortly stalked and pendulous, grayish-brown that weathers to a dull grey.  Cones are asymmetrically ovoid,  7 – 15 cm long and 6 to 12 cm wide, usually persistent (cones can stay on the tree up to five years while still holding viable seeds). The seeds have well-developed wings which help with wind dispersal (Blood 2001; Farjon 2005).

For further information and assistance with identification of Radiata Pine contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

No flower

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Radiata Pine can grow in a wide variety of environments including exposed, infertile rocky terrain and can tolerate salt spray, drought and frost when established. It can grow up to 1.5 meters per growing season in good conditions. In Australia it invades native forest, heathland, heathy woodland, lowland grassland, grassy woodland, coastal dunes, riparian vegetation as well as damp and dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands (Blood 2001; Farjon 2005).

Are there similar species?

Radiata Pine can be confused with other pine species as well as Native Pines (Callitris sp.) or Native Cherry (Exocarpos cupressiformis). The native species lack the same aromatic effect of introduced pine species, this distinct pine smell is often mimicked for cleaning and deodorising products. When identifying between introduced pine species Radiata Pine has bundles of three leaves as well as a bright green foliage and persistent oblique cones (Dallimore & Jackson 1961; Blood 2001; Muyt 2001).

Can also be confused with other pine species 

Maritime Pine (Pinus pinaster) also have leaves in pairs but have much longer leaves, greater than 15 cm. 

Aleppo pine have shorter leaves in bundles of two.

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Radiata Pine has mostly invaded native vegetation, roadsides and waste ground and spread to these areas from large Radiata Pine plantations. 

Agriculture/forestry: Giant pine scale (GPS) is a scale insect that sucks the sap of pine trees. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean region, specifically Greece and Turkey. It is now present in Australia originally found in 2014 in suburbs east of Melbourne and in Adelaide. Radiata Pine could be adversely affected by GPS if infested with GPS, with GPS also threatening other commercial soft wood plantations, affecting some or all species of Abies (fir trees), Picea (spruce tree) and Pinus (pine trees). Reports from Europe indicate that large populations of giant pine scale can cause severe dehydration and dieback of branches. In some cases, this is followed by tree death. The pest has also caused defoliation of pines in parts of Italy and Turkey, with a significant impact in urban and forest environments (Government of South Australia undated). 

Native ecosystems: Radiata Pine can have a dramatic effect on the environment. The thick pine leaf litter can reduce the fertility and change nutrient cycling in soils as well as changing the water cycle. This leaf litter will also create a thick layer that prevent seedling establishment especially of native species reducing plant biodiversity in the area. Radiata Pine is considered a threat to Mediterranean ecosystems worldwide. In Australia they are known to invade into open dry environments both in native remnant vegetation and forests (Blood 2001; Lindenmayer & McCarthy 2001; Muyt 2001; Baker et al. 2007; Williams & Wardle 2007), in open eucalypt forests with a consequent reduction in species diversity. Radiata Pine invades heathland and heathy woodland, lowland grassland and grassy woodland, dry sclerophyll forest and woodland, damp sclerophyll forest, and riparian vegetation (Carr et al 1992) both in coastal and in land environments especially in sandy soils.

Human impact: Pine species also impact on human health. Physical contact with pine trees, pine pollen or pine dust can cause dermatitis and allergy responses in sensitive people (Rademaker 2007).

How does it spread?

The main method of dispersal for Radiata Pine is through seed transportation by wind and wildlife, additional dispersal is by water and sale of plants through nurseries. Radiata Pine seeds are known to be distributed up to 1 km by wind and further by wildlife such as the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo. There are records of plants growing more than 2 km away from the nearest plantation in Kosciuszko National Park (Blood 2001; Muyt 2001; Williams & Wardle 2007).

What is its history in Australia?

Radiata Pine was introduced into Australia in 1857 as a seed batch for the Melbourne and Sydney Botanic Gardens. From this introduction it was distributed widely to nurseries around Australia and was available in catalogues of the mid and late 1800s (Spencer 1995).

Radiata Pine is a versatile, fast growing softwood which has become one of the world's major sources of softwood. Not only is it used for timber but also as an ornamental specimen, in rows as wind brakes, for erosion control, bee forage and as Christmas trees. Radiata Pine can also be found in products like fire starters, garden mulch and potting mixes (Spencer 1995; Blood 2001).

In the Australian Capital Territory it was introduced to cover the over grazed hillsides. In 1925 the decision was made to use Radiata Pine to make the Australian Capital Territory self sufficient in softwood. Declared as a category 3 weed in the Australian Capital Territory, Radiata Pine must be contained but can still be used commercially. This species is now considered to be one of the 10 most serious invasive garden species still available for sale in the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania (Spencer 1995; Groves et al. 2005; Australian Capital Territory Government 2007).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Radiata Pine control methods are similar to other pine species and woody weeds. Control work should be planned to minimise disturbance to existing native vegetation. Controlled sites need to be monitored and follow-up treatment applied to re-sprouting stumps and seedlings.  Follow-up is essential as Aleppo pines have a high germination rate and seedlings can appear soon after adult trees are removed. The follow-up work should be undertaken before the seedlings reach sexual maturity at four years of age. 

Non-chemical control: Seedlings can be hand pulled or dug out as long as the main root is removed. Younger infestations may be treated by cutting with a brush-cutter (Government of South Australia 2021). Trees can be cut down or ringbarked without the need for herbicide use. Mechanical control of large trees appears to be an effective method of removal, with felled trees often pushed into large piles for burning.

Fire: For large scale removal fire may be an appropriate tool however temperate is important as is follow up to prevent post fire regeneration (Muyt 2001).  Infrequent fires can allow Pine seedlings to reach maturity and produce seeds creating a seed dispersal event rather than acting as a control method (Muyt 2001; Williams & Wardle 2007).

Chemical control: Large standing trees may be stem-injected with herbicide. Younger infestations may be treated with herbicides, (Government of South Australia 2021). Younger Radiata Pine infestations may be treated with foliar herbicide or by cutting with a brush-cutter or saw and applying herbicide. Radiata Pines must be cut as close to the ground as possible, all green needles need to be removed to ensure the stumps do not re-sprout. Swabbing the stump with herbicide immediately after cutting can increases the kill rate.

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

The average life expectance of a Radiata Pine is 85 years but they can live to be over 100 years old. A young Radiata Pine can reach sexual maturity at around 7.5 years or up till 20 years old. Seed production is a two year process with the first spring involving the release of pollen, sometime forming large clouds, and pollination of the seed cone. In the second spring fertilisation occurs with the seeds developing over the following months. While it may take a while for seeds to develop they can then remain viable in the cone for five years. Radiata Pine can also self fertilise thus an isolated tree can reproduce and start a new infestation (Blood 2001; Muyt 2001; Kasel 2004).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

The majority of Radiata Pine plantations occur in New South Wales and Victoria with plantation occurring in Western Australia, Tasmania, South Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory (DPI 2006; Williams & Wardle 2007).

Where does it originate?

Radiata Pine is only native to California and the islands of Guadalupe and Cedros in Mexico. Within this natural distribution Radiata Pine is considered rare and the variety binata (Pinus radiata var. binata) is classified as endangered under The World Conservation Union (IUCN) criteria (Spencer 1995; Farjon 2005).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?

Not declared in any states or territories

Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Pinus radiata

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

Pinus insignis Douglas ex Loudon

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Monterey Pine, Insignis Pine, Wilding Pine

Blackberry – a community-driven approach in Victoria

Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia. It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.

Read Case Study