Pinus resinosa (Red Pine)
|Also known as:||Norway Pine|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||sun; dry to mesic sandy soil; upland forest, savanna, barrens|
|Plant height:||60 to 120 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are borne in structures called cones (strobili) with separate male and female cones on the same tree. Male (pollen) cones are cylindrical with rounded tips, ½ to ¾ inch long, in dense clusters at the base of new branchlets (candles) with the newly expanding bud just above. The female strobili form at the tips of the new candle and are small and roundish, often deep pink to purple colored.
Leaves and bark:
Leaves are needle-like, 4 to 7 inches long, in bundles of two that spiral up around the branch. The pair stays closely aligned, rounded on the outside but facing surfaces flattened (D shaped in cross section), mostly straight or obscurely twisted. The needles break cleanly when bent.
New twigs are reddish brown and shiny, sometimes covered with sticky resin, soon turning reddish or dull grayish brown. Buds are orange or reddish brown with loose scales and a sharp point. The bark becomes grayish brown with patches of reddish orange and loose, scaly, vertical plates with darker furrows between.
The Minnesota State tree, Red Pine is a massive northern forest tree with a dbh (diameter at breast height) of over 3 feet, like the White Pine (Pinus strobus), most of our large, old growth stands were cut down over a century ago. While modern forest management practices do not favor its natural regeneration, it is heavily planted in plantations easily recognized by their straight, linear rows. Where these plantations have been extended out into drier prairie habitats, the trees rarely attain great stature before succumbing to native pine bark beetle infestations after a few hot, droughty years. Most similar is Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra), an urban landscape tree that also has needles bundled in pairs, but the needles do not break cleanly when bent, where those of Red Pine do, and the bark of Austrian Pine does not typically have the orangish plates. Red Pine is sometimes referred to as Norway Pine, a misnomer since the species did not originate in Norway.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Red Pine tree
- a Red Pine plantation
- a shelter row of Red Pine
- dwarf Red Pine nursery selection
- unopened cones
- comparison of Minnesota pine needles
- comparison of Minnesota pine cones
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Isanti, Ramsey, and St. Louis counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?