Radiata pine

Author: Dr Marius Rademaker, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 1999.

Common name: Radiata pine, Pinus radiata (Monterey pine)
Botanical name: Pinus radiata
Family: Pinaceae is made up of 250 species in 10 genera.
Origin: Pines are widely distributed in the temperate areas of the Northern hemisphere. Pinus radiata originates from the west coast of North America, but is now the main species of pine grown in forestry plantations in the southern hemisphere, including New Zealand.
Description: The Pinus radiata is an evergreen conifer, reaching a height of 15-35 metres. The outer bark is very thick, dark brown; deeply figgured and the inner bark is resinous. The needles occur in clusters of 2 (occasionally 3-5) held together at the base by tiny scales and shed as a group, needle-like, are 10-15 cm long and persist on the tree for approximately 3 years. Cones are 7.5-14 cm long. The male and female flowers are separate but on the same tree. The males form cylindrical catkins and the females form cones. Pollination occurs from August to September in the Southern Hemisphere, but may be extended due to high temperatures. Flower in early summers. Cones are produced annually. They may remain closed for several years, depending upon temperature and humidity.
Uses: Extensively cut for wood and resin.
Allergens: Allergic contact dermatitis. Five allergenic proteins have been detected in pine pollen: 82 kD, 67 kD, 54 kD, 44 kD, and 38 kD. The pollen grain is large, and therefore allergy is thought to be uncommon. However, a recent study from Spain suggests that Pinus radiata pollen may be a significant aeroallergen.
Colophony (abietic acid), derived from Pine trees, is a complex mixture of over 100 compounds. Colophony is one of the top 10 causes of contact dermatitis and one of the most common causes of occupational asthma.
Other allergens associated with pine trees include Woodcutter's eczema caused by lichens and/or liverworts (Frullania) living on the bark.
Allergic reactions to the caterpillar (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) has also been documented among visitors to Pine forests. Dermatitis and ocular lesions may occur by an IgE, mechanic or toxic mechanism.
Allergy: Asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis. Allergic contact dermatitis (colophony). Several studies suggest that 1-5% of pollen allergic subjects are pine pollen positive Forestry and wood workers show a much higher frequency of IgE sensitisation to the extract of Pine wood dust. Airborne allergic contact dermatitis from Pine dust has been documented.
Cross reactions: A high cross-reactivity between Pinus nigra, P. sylvestris, P. radiata and P. strobes. The possibility of cross-reactivity between Pinus and Rye grass (Lolium perenne) has also been suggested. Experiments have demonstrated the presence of IgE antibodies in serum against several components in Pine nuts and pollen, with the presence of some cross-reacting components.
Other information:  
Patch test: Sawdust, colophony, turpentine


Related Information


  • Ahman M, van Hage-Hamsten M, Johansson SG. IgE-mediated allergy to wood dusts probably does not explain the high prevalence of respiratory symptoms among Swedish woodwork teachers. Allergy 1995;50(7):559-562
  • Bousquet J, Cour P, Guerin B, Michel FB. Allergy in the Mediterranean area. I. Pollen counts and pollinosis of Montpellier. Clin Allergy 1984;14(3):249-258
  • Burge P, Wieland A, Robertson AS, Weir D. Occupational asthma due to unheated colophony. Br J Ind Med 1986;43(8):559 60
  • Cornford CA; Fountain DW; Burr RG. IgE binding proteins from Pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) pollen: evidence for cross reactivity with ryegrass (Lolium perenne). Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol 1990;93(1):41-6
  • Dutkiewicz J, Skorska C, Dutkiewicz E, Matuszyk A, Sitkowska J, Krysinska-Traczyk E. Response of sawmill workers to work-related airborne allergens. Ann Agric Environ Med 2001;8(1):81-90
  • Fountain DW, Cornford CA. Aerobiology and allergenicity of Pinus radiata pollen in New Zealand. Grana 1991;30:71-75
  • Freeman GL. Pine pollen allergy in northern Arizona. Ann Allergy 1993;70(6):491-494
  • Gastaminza G, Lombardero M, Ansotegui IJ, et al. Alergia a. Pinus radiata: alergenos y reactividad cruzado con otros pinos y gramineas. Allergol Immunol Clin 2000;15:69
  • Gonzalez EM, Villalba M, Rodriguez R. Allergenic cross-reactivity of olive pollen. Allergy 2000;55(7):658-663
  • Malmstrom K, Savolainen J, Terho EO. Allergic alveolitis from Pine sawdust. Allergy 1999;54(5):532-533
  • Marcos C, Rodriguez FJ, Luna I, Jato V, Gonzalez R. Pinus pollen aerobiology and clinical sensitization in northwest Spain. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2001 Jul;87(1):39-42
  • Sadhra S, Foulds IS, Gray CN, Koh D, Gardiner K. Colophony uses, health effects, airborne measurement and analysis. Ann Occup Hyg 1994;38(4):385-96
  • Senna G, Roncarolo D, Dama A, Mistrello G. Anaphylaxis to Pine nuts and immunological cross-reactivity with Pine pollen proteins. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2000;10(1):44-46
  • Vega JM, Moneo I, Armentia A, Fernandez A, Vega J, De La Fuente R, Sanchez P, Sanchis ME. Allergy to the Pine processionary caterpillar (Thaumetopoea pityocampa). Clin Exp Allergy 1999;29(10):1418-1423
  • Watsky KL. Airborne allergic contact dermatitis from Pine dust. Am J Contact Dermat 1997;8(2):118-120