Pinus maximartinezii - Martínez Pinyon Pine

PINUS MAXIMARTINEZII

BIG-CONE PINYON PINE, MARTÍNEZ PINYON PINE
 
Pinus maximartinezii Rzed. 
 
 
For decades this unique pinyon pine was only known (for science) from Cerro Piñones in Sierra Morone above Pueblo Viejo, southern Zacatecas. A recent (2010) discovery in the vicinity of La Muralla, southernmost Durango state, shows that the habitat conditions at that location are quite similar to those at Cerro Piñones. The Dendrological Atlas team made a documentation of the species at its type locality, Zacatecas, in March 1992. The photographs and other illustrations in our Conifers Around the World are based on the collections made on that occassion. Among other visits by plantsmen, a more recent exploration was made by Burkhard Witt, Germany, who kindly provided the following report on his findings not only at the type locality of the species but at other conifer places as well.
 
(among the illustrations below, we included the C.A.W. bookplate designed with part of the beautiful artwork of P. maximartinezii, created by Li Aili, Chinese Academy of Sciences, based on the botanical sketch by Zsolt Debreczy)
 
(contributed by Burkhard Witt, Botanical Garden, University of Jena, Germany)
 
I visited Mexico twice to look for conifers, with 4 years in-between. What I saw the second time was an astonishing experience: in the south I found entire hillsides formerly covered by pine-oak forests, now transformed through shifting cultivation into maize fields! Subsistence agriculture on slopes with poor soils will provide food source only for very few years for the poorest of the poor. And after…? Also I saw thousands of hectares of virgin conifer forest recently destroyed by provoked fires in the northeast of Mexico. And I noticed the slow destruction of a monarch butterfly overwintering site in central Mexico: grazing was seen everywhere within the protected area, with no regeneration of Abies religiosa, and even its old trunks were damaged by machete or fire. 
In the case of the habitat of Pinus maximartinezii something very different was experienced. Everyone I encountered on the trails to this unique pinyon knew where and why I wanted to go. They showed me the way, and I noticed the local people were aware of the significance of the species! Within the stands of the pine I didn’t see grazing, cutting of the pinyons, or traces of forest fires. Why was it so different here, different from what I have seen in other places of Mexico? – The answer came in the evening: locals led me to the „keeper” of the species and its habitat. Ing. Isaac Quintero Quintero makes it sure that local workers get some income for collecting the mature cones and extracting the seeds from them. The seeds are no longer used for food but more for propagation for reforestation programs. Also, today all this is connected with ecotourism. My impression was that in this region everyone had clearly understood: „The Pinyon” is a precious tree, its habitat is an important one, so they have to be preserved!
 
(photos: habitat; branch with both „juvenile leaves” and „adult needles”; trunk of a mature tree; seedling)
 
Burkhard Witt

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