How to make "quite" realistic pine-tree?

Hello everybody,
I’ve been studying treegeenrators for Blender, i.e. Lsystem and Gen3, for several days.
I’m making in Blender an architectural model where I will insert some trees and more precisely old pine-trees, now the problem is to make these pine-trees.

Reading several posts inside BAforum about tree and treegen I’ve noticed many questions, I hope this thread might be helpful to the Blender community.

Making several attempts I found that the most suitable treegen is maybe Lsystem. Looking at one of the many pine-trees (bot. Pinus Pinea), so popular in Rome (where I live), it’s evident that its framework is due to the high number of prunings by man, therefore I wonder whether it’s possible to use treegens, made to reproduce the natural and random effect, for such artificial work.

I also realized that the top ends of the branch majority belong, more or less, to the same horizontal plane, or more precisely, to a very flatted dome. Could you please help me and tell me which Lsystem parameters I should set in order to achieve this result?

Another awesome problem is the foliage. I tried to reproduce a group of needles using an object made of several edges all welded in a single vertex with a wire material assigned, but inside the lsystem.blend the render do not show this kind of material. Then I tried using particle system (learned with the Imperitor tut, thanks) above a small face, but in the render I see just the plane emitting, what’s wrong?
Below the setting I used to make a young pine-tree (I need an old pine-tree) with needles using particle systems

Do you have suggestions in order to have a quite realistic soft foliage?
Please, answer me also if you have other advice about some other treegens and realitve settings.

Thanks in advance

hmm… when you said pine I thought of a ponderosa, (native here in oregon), but these are much different.

note how one company did ponerosas:

your pines are the opposite, upward slanting cones might work.
another method is cards,

note also the method this guy used:

modelling and textureing is easier then generating and using particles.

another option is xfrog (google it, cool program, free for 30 days)