White Pine

Pinus strobus
Family Pinaceae

* Needles in clusters of 5. (A handy recognition tip: "white" has 5 letters, white pine has 5 needles in a cluster.)
* Needles thin, 3-5" long.
* Cones slender, tapering, and thornless, 3-10" long.
* Height: Grows to over 200'.
* Diameter: 3'.

Natural History:
* Habitat: Lowland forests, also on bare ledges at medium elevation. Prefers moist, sandy soils. Regenerates only where large areas of forests have been destroyed by forces such as fire, or in abandoned farm fields.
* Range: Southeastern Canada to northeastern United States.
* Native.

* White pine, because of its size and elegant, pagoda-like shape, retains a regal status in northern forests. Unlike trees such as maple, which only grow to reach the forest canopy and then spread out, white pine continues to grow higher and higher above the canopy, reaching 200 feet in some areas.

* "Tall arrowy white pines."
-Henry David Thoreau

* Early settlers in New England were awed and amazed by the huge size of the white pines they encountered. Its light, soft wood made it a desirable crop for the masts and figureheads of ships. England began to depend upon white pine masts for ships of the Royal Navy. Unrest grew among colonists when the trees of their new land were demanded by the English Crown, and so in a way the white pine played a significant role in the founding of the United States. In fact, the first flag of the Revolutionary forces depicted a white pine.

* Nearly all of America's virgin white pine stands exist no longer, having been logged and exploited in the monumental process of building a country. The conservation movement came too late to save the ancient trees, but their demise raised the awareness of American leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt, who founded the National Park Service in part to save the virgin forests of the West.



Created by: Allaire Diamond and Jiasuey Hsu
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: July 31, 1998
Last Modified: November 21, 2008