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Genetic and dendrochronological analysis on populations of local European Black Pine in Majella National Park

In Abruzzo, the European Black Pine (Pinus nigra var. italica) is a relict species, surviving for example in the famous pine forest near the residential area of Villetta Barrea, in a few stony stations on the walls of Camosciara of Abruzzo National Park and in the Orfento River Valley - within Majella National Park - on the walls of the first part of the St. Spirito Valley and mainly on the walls of Cima della Stretta, in the territory of Fara San Martino.

Though being a well known fact for the locals, the presence of these pines, was scientifically signaled in the first half of the seventeenth century: Tenore in 1831 cited their presence, in regard to Abruzzo, only in the Orfento River Valley, the same locality where Gussone in 1858 collected and classified the species as Pinus magellensis.

The European Black Pine of Fara San Martino was labeled as part of the subspecies laricio, but recent molecular and morphological investigations of the anatomy of the leaves (“needles”), coming from individuals both from Abruzzo Park and from Majella Park, attributed the two populations to the same taxon Pinus nigra var. italica.
More recent and ongoing studies at the Tuscia University in Viterbo, in collaboration with Majella National Park, seem to suggest that the pine populations of Fara San Martino have definitely different characteristics from the other entities in the Italian peninsula, in Croatia, in Slovenia and in Greece. As a part of the same project, also some dendrochronological analysis were started and a specimen with a circumference of about 4 meters on the wall of Cima della Stretta at Fara S. Martino appears to be older than 700 years.

For those populations, localized on overhanging rocky walls which are hundreds of meters high, it is possible to suppose the discovery of thousand-year old specimens also among not very big individuals.

Image of a European Black Pine
Image of a European Black Pine
Image of European Black Pines
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