Scotch Pine, Pinus sylvestris

Among the many plants of Japan, the “Three Friends of Winter”—pine, bamboo, and plum—remain the most popular botanical motifs. The trio was named because of their winter behavior: while most plants are dormant during the cold season, bamboo and pine remain green, and the plum blooms during the first still-cold days of spring. Since the Song dynasty (960–1279) of China, the three plants have come to symbolize fortitude and uprightness in tough conditions.

In China, the pine symbolizes nobility, venerability, and when shown with a crane, longevity.


Asian Art Museum. “Three Friends of Winter.” 

Selected works of art featuring Pines:

Art Institute of Chicago

Ito Shinsui, Japanese, 1898-1972. Pine tree at Karasaki (Karasaki no matsu), 1918. Color woodblock print from the series “Eight Views of Omi (Omi hakkei).” Gift of Mr. Cornelius Crane, 1962.277

Spencer Museum of Art

Li Huayi China, b. 1948. The Silence of Pines on Remote Peaks, 1999. Hanging scroll; ink and colors on paper. Museum purchase: R. Charles and Mary Margaret Clevenger Fund in honor of Professor Chu-tsing Li, 2000.0011

Katsushika Hokusai. No. 16. Measuring a Pine Tree at Mishima Pass in Ko Province, 1827. From his thirty-six, traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints entitled "Mt Fuji Views".

Shi Yi (1937-). Lofty Mt. Huang, Ink and color on paper. Huang Shan is regarded as one of the best attractive mountain in China for its rare pine trees, unusual rock formations, scenary of sea clouds, and hot springs.

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