The Coulter pine or big-cone pine, Pinus coulteri, is a native of the coastal mountains of Southern California and northern Baja California [Mexico]. Isolated groves are found as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area in Mt. Diablo State Park and Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. The species is named after Thomas Coulter, an Irish botanist and physician.
The outstanding characteristic of this tree is the large, spiny cones which are 20–40 cm [8–16 in] long, and weigh 2–5 kg [4-10 lbs] when fresh.
Coulter pines produce the largest cones of any pine tree species [people are actually advised to wear hardhats when working in Coulter pine groves], although the slender cones of the sugar pine are longer. The large size of the cones has earned them the nickname “widowmakers” among locals.
Photos: Dried Pine Cone @ retreat house in Sharp Mountain, Jasper, Georgia.