Singleleaf Pinyon

Singleleaf Pinyon
Singleleaf Pinyon on the Watchman Trail

NPS/Amy Gaiennie

Singleleaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla)
Have you ever heard the expression “pines come in packages”? For the most part, pines can be distinguished from other conifers because their needles come in bundles or clusters of two to five. This pine, however, is an exception to the rule. It has a single, stout, sharp-pointed needle—unique among pine trees— which is apparently composed of five needles fused together.

The pinyon cone produces nuts called pine nuts. Modern people eat them as a delicacy, a garnish for foods such as salads and pizzas, or in pesto. The Ancient Puebloan people, however, depended on them for everything from food to shelter, from medicine to fuel. They may not have been able to develop their culture and lifestyle in the Southwest without this vital tree. A bird called the pinyon jay is also dependent on the pine. In late summer, pinyon jays—traveling in large flocks—begin burying tens of thousands of seeds in preparation for winter. They have a remarkable ability to relocate these caches of food, but they miss some of the nuts. Those they miss will sprout into the next generation of pinyons.

Return to Trees and Shrubs

Last updated: February 24, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.
State Route 9

Springdale, UT 84767


(435) 772-3256
Staffed daily from 9 am - noon. Recorded information is available 24 hours a day. If you are unable to reach someone by phone, please email us at

Contact Us