The White Pine Tree (Pinus strobus)

Height: Usually 75 feet or so; rarely towering to 200 feet

Evergreen/Deciduous: Evergreen  

Lifespan: Long-lived; occasionally to 400 years or more  

Fall Foliage: Green  

Range: The northeastern U.S. and southern Canada, west to the Great Lakes and south along the Appalachian Mountains   

Typical Habitat: Varied, but usually relatively cool areas with well-drained soils, plenty of sun and sufficient, yet not excessive rainfall.   

The White Pine: The Tree That Built America   

The white pine is a very interesting species. Ecologically, it exhibits a moderate tolerance for shade, so while it occasionally becomes a dominant canopy component, it is often outcompeted by oaks, maples, and others. Additionally, this tree can have trouble colonizing some locations, due to the intense predatory pressure of deer and rabbits.

But one of the first things most nature lovers will learn about the white pine is its importance to the westward expansion of North America. Abundant, large, and easily worked, the white pine was the preferred species for many applications. In fact, large specimens were sometimes called “mast pines,” thanks to their suitability for making ship masts.   

White Pine Identification: Tips & Tricks

The white pine is typically pretty easy to distinguish from the other pines in its range (remember that pines have bundled needles and cones that hang beneath the branch). It’s blueish-green needles are often sufficient for identification, as is their tendency to grow in bundles of five.

Additionally, the white pine has a rather long, somewhat delicate cone, and it exhibits a regular pattern of branching as you look up and down the trunk.  

The White Pine: Additional Information

Interested in learning more about this iconic species? Take a look at the resources below.

  • Conifers.Org: An invaluable resource for all things gymnosperm, this is one of the best resources on white pines around.
  • U.S. Forest Service: Covering everything from range to growth rate, this is an exhaustive (if dry) resource on the white pine.    
  • Missouri Botanical Gardens: Basic info as well as horticultural notes and several high-quality photos.

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