‘Big Tuna’ Lives Up to its Nautical Name
The Mugo pine is one of the most dependable dwarf conifers for park and lawn planting and one of the few pines that will tolerate light shade. Known as a small European pine, mostly dwarf or bushy but sometimes a tree to 40 feet tall, the Mugo pine has become a confused plant in the nursery trade. There are several forms of Mugo pine each differing in stature and form and armature of the cones, hence the confusion.
One form of Mugo pine received it varietal name from the shape of the ends of its cones. Pinus mugo var. rostrata was named for its elongated pyramidal cones that end terminating in a hook-like or beak-like appearance. ‘Rostrata’ is Latin for rostrate meaning ‘beak’ the word deriving from the curved end of a Roman warship’s prow used as a ram.
A new cultivar of Pinus mugo var. rostrata was developed as a seedling selection by Iseli Nursery of Boring, Oregon and introduced in 1976. Pinus mugo var. rostrata ‘Big Tuna’ is a slow-growing, upright, multi-stemmed tree that becomes taller than wide and develops a dense bushy habit. Its mature height is 15 feet by 8 feet wide. Hardy to Zone 2 ‘Big Tuna’ will not winter burn and can be very effective, especially when used with other evergreens in the landscape.
All Mugo pines do well in any well-drained soil that is not particularly rich in nutrients. Native to the mountains of central Europe, Mugo pines can grow in rocky, sandy, problem soils unsuited for most other plants. Added peat moss to the soil will benefit a Mugo pine when initially preparing the soil for planting.