|Dragon's-eye Japanese red pine|
Several years ago, I was touring a garden in Ohio and I spotted this very unusual pine tree. Luckily, the tree had a identification sign posted with it's name on it. The tree was Pinus densiflora 'Oculus Draconis' or Dragon's-eye Japanese red pine. The tree was very unusual and from the distance it did indeed look like there were 'eyes' on the ends of the branches. I never forgot that tree.
Dragon's Eye is a slow growing tree that can reach over 30 feet and spread between 15 to 30 feet. It can grow about 6 inches a year and prefers full sun to part shade. It is very adaptable to different soil types as long as it is well drained. What makes the tree so interesting is that it has showy foliage and it has interesting bark. The needles are marked with bars of yellow and green. This variegation remains all year and intensifies late in the year. The bark is often orangish-red when young and peels off in scales.The trunk is often twisted giving the tree an unusual look. It is a very graceful looking tree when mature, but it may look a little ungainly when young. Dragon's-eye makes a wonderful specimen tree in any garden and it will look great when planted in front of evergreens to show off it's color. It grows in zones 4-9.
When I saw this plant, I knew it was one that I wanted to add to my garden in the future. Well I did it, I purchased a small tree and it should arrive sometime in the spring. These trees can be expensive and that is why I purchased a small one. Hopefully we will mature and grow old together!