Pinus strobus (White Pine)
|Also known as:|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||sun; mesic soils; upland forest|
|Plant height:||80 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 an elongated egg-shape, 1/3 to ½ 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, slender cylindrical on a stalk of the same length, light yellowish green in color.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are needle-like, 2½ to 5 inches long, in bundles of five that spiral up around the branch, very soft and flexible with a light bluish green color, semi-triangular in cross section, angled where needles face each other and rounded on the outside, very straight.
New twigs are mostly brown with a dull appearance from very fine matted hairs on the surface, becoming grayish colored and smooth minus the hairs, very limber and flexible. The bark becomes grayish brown with patches of reddish orange and loose, scaly, vertical plates with darker furrows between.
The fruit is a long, soft cone, small and cylindrical in tips of 1 year old branches, 1 to 1¼ inch long and erect away from the stem at the end of the first season, 4 to 8 inches long when mature, in hanging clusters near the end of branches, flexible, the scales soft, often with with large drops of sticky resin..
No other native species holds as much historical significance for Minnesota as the white pine. For early settlers, the millions of acres of majestic trees represented economic opportunity and growth. But it also quickly became a story of over exploitation and depletion. While the beginnings of this seemingly inexhaustible resource had its roots going back nearly 5,000 years, in less than a 150 years it had all but been wiped out. The few remaining postage stamp sized stands now scattered about the northern forest serve as poignant reminders of human greed and lack of vision. The combination of the imported disease - white pine blister rust, an over managed deer herd and lack of a comprehensive recovery plan all but guarantees such a forest will never be visited upon us again. White Pine is easily distinguished from other Pinus species in Minnesota by its needles in bundles of 5.
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- comparison of Minnesota pine cones
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Isanti, Ramsey, and St. Louis counties.
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