Native to a small area of coastal California but a major plantation species in the southern hemisphere (New Zealand, Australia, Chile).
Very limited provenance testing has been carried out in Britain; seed could be sourced from cold hardy strains identified in breeding programmes in other countries (New Zealand) or possibly from British stands of good form.
Adapted to a warm climate and is currently confined to sites in the south-west and extreme south of Britain. This is a light demanding species which is tolerant of exposure, provided the climate is suitable. It grows well on soils of very poor to medium nutrient status and of dry to fresh soil moisture. It is not suited to peats or gleys or to alkaline soils. Provided there is adequate warmth and the soils are freely draining, it can grow on sites with between 500 and over 2000 mm of rainfall.
Pests and pathogens
It is susceptible to red band needle blight, particularly in the establishment phase. Pitch pine canker (Fusarium circinatum) is a serious canker disease of pines, particularly radiata pine. Over the past decade this disease has spread to several countries in western Europe, although it is not present in Britain. Radiata pine also suffers from Diplodia blight (Sphaeropsis sapinea) in some parts of Europe, visible as shoot dieback.
On the right site, this is the fastest growing and most productive pine that can be grown in Britain. Because it is currently cold limited, the species should benefit from climate warming and a wider range of sites in southern and lowland Britain should become more suitable.
Radiata pine is categorised as a secondary tree species. These are species that have been planted on a much smaller scale than the principal species but are reasonably well understood and have demonstrated their suitability for forestry in terms of stem form, growth rate and hardiness under current conditions and so have potential for wider use in future.