Italian stone pine

  • Italian stone pine, view looking north.
  • Italian stone pine, view looking east.
  • Italian stone pine, view looking from southeast.
  • Italian stone pine, view from courtyard.

A towering presence over the Arena at Chinati is the Italian Stone Pine, a gorgeous round-topped tree planted in the exterior courtyard. Italian Stone Pines, also referred to as umbrella pines, are native to the Mediterranean, likely arising in the Iberian Peninsula nearly 6000 years ago. The Italian Stone Pine produces large, oily seeds that we know as pine nuts! Pine nuts were used as trade items in early historic times, and there are records that suggest Roman armies included pine nuts in their diets. Today, pine nuts are often added to pestos and salads. Italian Stone Pines can grow to be 40 to 80 feet tall, with a growth rate of two to three feet per year. Depending on a specific tree’s location and care, Stone Pines can live between 50 to 150 years. Most recognizable through their umbrella-shaped tops, Italian Stone Pines also produce pine cones, from which pine nuts can be cultivated.

Chinati’s Stone Pine was likely planted by the Army. The tree was already taller than the Arena when Donald Judd and the Dia Foundation acquired the property, a former military fort, in 1978.

Imagine you could design and build a treehouse to go in this tree (or a tree local to where you live!). What do you want your treehouse to look like? How big will it be? What materials will it be made from? What will you use your imaginary treehouse for—a hideaway? A quiet place to read? Begin by sketching out your treehouse. Then, gather materials you have around your house, such as cardboard, plastic containers, cans, fabric, etc., to build a model of your treehouse!