Pinus strobus (White Pine)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Pinaceae (Pine)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:sun; mesic soils; upland forest
Bloom season:June
Plant height:80 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 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: Leaf type: simple

[photo of branchlets and needles] 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.

[photo of scaly bark] 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.

[photo of branch buds and 1-year-old cones] Branch buds are small, about ¼ inch long, cylindrical with an abrupt sharp point, the light brown scales tightly appressed to the bud with a thin resinous coating.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of 2-year-old cones] 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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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: Steve - Lone Lake Park, Minnetonka,mn
on: 2016-02-10 01:17:54

I found some white pines growing in Lone Lake Park. They're located south of the graveyard up on top of a hill along a path.

Posted by: luciearl - Lake Shore
on: 2016-08-08 22:41:14

There many growing around Rocky Pt on Gull Lake. I have 4 in my yard.

Posted by: Michael - Floodwood
on: 2022-05-31 00:46:26

I'm hoping to grow a forest of White Pine. Starting two years ago I am planting 1000 seedlings every year throughout the understory of my Aspen forest (property was logged in the 90's) until the trees are self-sustaining. Bud capping is essential due to deer browse. In addition, I transplant a few 6' trees every year for an extra step. Hopefully I live another 60-70 years to see it in full form!

Posted by: Deborah Carroll - South Minneapolis
on: 2022-06-06 16:26:14

I believe the gigantic pine tree in our yard is white pine and is about 100 years old. I am trying to determine when it will pop (pollinate) this year. I can't open windows until it pops or their is pollen dust throughout my home. Do you know if we are close here to that time yet? Thanks!

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2022-06-06 16:51:50

Deborah, the MN Dept of Health tracks this info. Check their website for general info:

Posted by: Sandra Sedivy - Mid-central Otter Tail County
on: 2024-07-11 14:38:53

I just walked out of church and noticed several new tree plantings. I was thrilled to see after two failures of different pines, they'd chosen the White Pine native to MN. :)

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