Pinus resinosa (Red Pine)

Plant Info
Also known as: Norway Pine
Family:Pinaceae (Pine)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:sun; dry to mesic sandy soil; upland forest, savanna, barrens
Bloom season:June
Plant height:60 to 120 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information


[photo of male cones] 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: Leaf type: simple

[photo of branchlet and needles] 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.

[photo of trunk] 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.

[photo of branch buds and 1-year-old cones] Branch buds are large, around 1 inch long with a long sharp tip; bud scales are narrow, lance shaped, loose with papery margins.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of 2-year-old cone] The fruit is a hard cone, small and egg shaped, 3/8 to ½ inch long at the end of the first season, 1½ to 2¼ inches long when mature, the tips of the scales without a barb.


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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More photos

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?

Posted by: Cary B. Lund - Eagan
on: 2017-10-30 23:00:54

While walking the trails at Caponi Art Park in Eagan last week with my daughter who works there part time, on a back area trail at the top of a ridge, we entered a sizeable grove of mature tall red pine. I note in looking for their range in Minnesota that they are not denoted as occurring in the Twin Cities area or more particularly south of the Minnesota River as is the case at this site in Eagan.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-10-31 04:48:22

Cary, it may not have been a natural population, since red pine has been heavily planted.

Posted by: Chris D - Farm island lake, Aitkin, MN
on: 2020-07-19 09:22:50

We have a mature Red pine (70') that has a layer of branches about 20 feet up that are dying. Appears to be spreading. Any known disease that we should be aware of.

Posted by: Stephan - Pine County
on: 2023-03-25 12:54:22

Does anyone know if red pine wood is any more resinous than other pine species with its Latin species name "resinosa"? I have an oak/aspen woodland east of Willow River with numerous old stumps around which I believe are red pine based on growth ring characteristics. The bark and heartwood has long rotted away, but the outer sapwwood in many cases is still solid and highly aromatic when sanded down. Perhaps this is due to a greater amount of resin found in red pine?

Posted by: Sheldon Elseth - Rochester
on: 2023-08-12 14:47:08

To answer the "dying branches" concern posted by Chris D, the Red Pine is notoriously shade intolerant. The upper branches cast enough shade on the lower branches that eventually they die and break off. This makes it very difficult for a Red Pine forest to replace iteself as it's seeds on the forest floor are in such dense shade that even though some germinate, the treelings are few and other tree species eventually grow up to replace the Red Pine. Hence the Pinus resinosa is not a climax species.

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