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Beautiful pine from the land of the Aztecs

Montezuma conjures us all kinds of images in my mind. From Palaces of Montezuma by Grinderman, rendered beautifully in a recent on-line concert by Nick Cave alone on piano, to Neil Young's song Cortez the Killer and the entire album called Zuma, or indeed the man himself, usually written Moctezuma II or Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin, the ninth ruler of the Aztecs. Rich pickings.

English botanist, Aylmer Bourke Lambert, described today's species, Pinus montezumae, in 1832, in honour of Moctezuma II, famous today for his encounters with (and death at the hands of) Spanish conquistadors. The species, known commonly as Montezuma's Pine - or less elegantly, in hard copy of HortFlora, also Rough-branched Mexican Pine, and in Mexico, Ocote - grows in the areas once occupied by Aztecs (central and southern Mexico) as well as a little further south into Guatemala.

It favours mountain slopes with decent rains, but will grow in dryer areas where it tends to be not as tall and more branched.…

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