The Pinyon Pine is the state tree of New Mexico. It was chosen by the New Mexico Federation of Women’s Club and adopted on March 16, 1949 — the same day the roadrunner was adopted as the state bird. This small, drought-hardy, long-lived tree is widespread in the southwestern Unites States. It can be found in Colorado, southern Wyoming, eastern and central Utah, northern Arizona and New Mexico.
This hardy tree grows at altitudes from 4,600 – 9,800 feet, but does best in the mid-range altitudes. It normally forms open woodlands, but can grow even on the ledges and nooks and crannies in canyons.
The heavy wood of the Pinyon Pine is used for fuel and is so strong it was once made into plow heads that were used to break up soil for crop planting in the earliest agricultural settlements in the state. The seeds from the 2-inch cones have a delicate flavor that making them much in demand.
The name is derived from the Spanish word pinon, which refers to the large seed of the pino (pine).