Credit for saving the species lies with six states that have enacted laws prohibiting the killing of the tree, once thought of as unsightly. Similar laws protecting the trees will become effective this summer in twelve additional states.
For hundreds of years, farmers and homeowners have been mercilessly killing the brown pine (and it's cousins the brown spruce and bronze hemlock). The unusual brown coloring of these trees is due to a lack of chlorophyll and the absence of water.
Horticulturists have historically misunderstood the life cycle of these trees and thought they were dead. Current scientific theory cannot explain the trees metabolism, but proof of their existence is plentiful, however they manage to exist.
Before reaching maturity, the brown pine may bear green needles resembling red or white pine trees. On reaching maturity, the tree transforms from green to brown and then usually stands for from two to four growing seasons before shedding its needles and attaining a horizontal stature.
Anyone desiring to move a brown pine (or its cousin
plants) is urged to contact their county extension office to obtain the appropriate permits. Failure to properly treat the brown pine can result in severe criminal punishment.