Torrey Pine on Fort Ord
Preliminary data and analysis by Fred Watson, PhD.
Copyright (C) F. Watson. Last updated: 27 Jan 2022.

Torrey pines are native to a small area in San Diego and to the northern side of Santa Rosa island. They are rare in their native range and thus have a California Rare Plant Ranking (1B.2). They have become established in some areas in central California, the largest of which appears to be the former Fort Ord, near Monterey.

Torrey pines are expanding rapidly on the former Fort Ord, impacting Fort Ord's Special Status species and Sensitive Natural Communities including:

The subspecies of Torrey Pne that occurs on Fort Ord appears to be Pinus torreyana ssp. torreyana - which is the subspecies that is native to the San Diego area.

Relative to other non-native pines on Fort Ord, P. torreyana seems to be more strongly associated with sandy open areas. Other pines naturalized on the former Fort Ord include P. radiata, P. sabiniana, P. attenuata (just one or two individuals), P. pinea, and potentially / arguably P. muricata, and P. canariensis. Pinus contorta ssp. contorta is present, but perhaps not naturalized.

Here's a map and some photos summarizing the known distribution of Torrey pines on Fort Ord. This is mostly based on 106 miles of foot survey between Dec 2022 & Jan 2023.

  1. Latest maps - starting to close in on what you might call a complete census of all areas where torreyana is growing - missing a few patches that I haven't surveyed yet and where torreyana might be growing

    Areas of impact to protected Monterey gilia (FE, ST) are indicated with black polygons in the map at right. The thin purple lines delineate a 50 m buffer around the GPS'ed trees & saplings, which in turn are a sample of the trees evident in each location. The total area inside the purple lines is 995 acres.

  2. Monterey Gilia patches currently impacted by Torrey pines (not an exhaustive list)

    1. Cypress Knolls - CKN08

      Monterey gilia (FE, ST) grow in the sandy areas in center of top photo.
      Torrey pine needles (left) are covering up the sand.
      Sandmat manzanita (CRPR 1B.2) also abundant in photo.

    2. West of the landfill - LAN02

      Monterey gilia (FE, ST) grow in the sand at the base of this Torrey pine. A small new forest of Torrey pines is growing in the background.

    3. East of the landfill - LAN20

      I recorded Monterey gilia (FE, ST) at this location in 2017. Torrey pine needles now cover the area. Also covered are Sandmat manzanita (CRPR 1B.2)

    4. Marina Equestrian Center - MEC01

      A fairly large population of Monterey gilia (FE, ST) grows here in the spaces near where the horses walk. The gilia also grow in the spaces between the eucalypts and french broom. The Torrey pine have encroached more recently.

  3. Coming soon: Area calculations that exclude paved areas etc.