The Gymnosperm Database
Ontario's northern forest, growing around a rock in Killarney Provincial Park: clockwise from top are
Abies balsamea, Tsuga canadensis, Thuja occidentalis, Pinus resinosa, Pinus strobus
Two large native-grown trees by Daicey Pond in Baxter State Park, Maine [C.J. Earle, 2003.07].
Cones on the above tree [C.J. Earle, 2003.07].
Bark on one of the above trees [C.J. Earle, 2003.07].
Shoot of an ornamental specimen (Seattle, USA) showing foliage and twig [C.J. Earle].
Foliage on an ornamental tree in Seattle (USA) [C.J. Earle, 1999.02].
U.S. stamp. Source:
, p. 1001
Eastern white pine, northern white pine, white pine; pin blanc [French].
(Linnaeus) Small (
). Formerly, many authors regarded
as a variety of
, but it is now generally seen as a distinct species.
Trees to 30-67 m tall and 100-180 cm in diameter, straight; crown conic, becoming rounded to irregular or flattened. Bark darkening and thickening as tree ages, becoming gray-brown, deeply furrowed with broad ridges of irregularly rectangular, purple-tinged scaly plates. Branches whorled, spreading-upswept; twigs slender, pale red-brown, glabrous or pale puberulent, aging gray, ±smooth. Buds ovoid-cylindric, light red-brown, 0.4-0.5 cm, slightly resinous. Needles 5 per fascicle, spreading to ascending, persisting 2-3 years, 6-10 cm × 0.7-1 mm, straight, slightly twisted, pliant, deep green to blue-green, pale stomatal lines evident only on adaxial surfaces, margins finely serrulate, apex abruptly acute to short-acuminate; sheath 1-1.5 cm, shed early. Staminate cones numerous, ellipsoid, 10-15 mm, yellow. Ovulate cones maturing in 2 years, shedding seeds and falling soon thereafter, clustered, pendent, symmetric, cylindric to lance-cylindric or ellipsoid-cylindric before opening, ellipsoid-cylindric to cylindric or lance-cylindric when open, (7)8-20 cm, gray-brown to pale brown, with purple or gray tints, stalks 2-3 cm; apophyses slightly raised, resinous at tip; umbo terminal, low. Seeds compressed, broadly obliquely obovoid; body 5-6 mm, tapering at both ends, red-brown mottled with black; wing 1.8-2.5 cm, pale brown. 2
Distribution and Ecology
Canada: Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Québec, Ontario, and Manitoba; France: St. Pierre and Miquelon; and USA: All states E from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia to the Atlantic Ocean (excepting Florida); the variety in Mexico and Guatemala. Found at sea level in the N, and up to 1500 m in the S. Prefers well-drained soils and a cool, humid climate. Forms mixed stands with
Tsuga canadensis, Quercus
). See also
. Hardy to Zone 3 (cold hardiness limit between -39.9°C and -34.4°C) (
Bannister and Neuner 2001
Distribution data from
. Points represent isolated or approximate locations.
The official largest specimen is 185 cm dbh (229 inch girth), height 40.2 m (132 feet), in Morrill, Maine (American Forests 2007). Larger specimens were recorded historically; the Rich Mountain pine in Tennessee was 186 cm dbh (230 inches in girth) and 51.2 m (168 feet) tall with a broken top when it was logged (Blozan [no date]). The tallest known living tree is the "Boogerman Pine" in Great Smoky Mountains National Park; it is 56.54 m tall (
). A tree in the Chattooga River watershed in Georgia is nearly as tall at 56.32 m (Riddle 2016).
The oldest known log was found at Swan Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontaria by R.P. Guyette and B. Cole. This log, specimen SWW51, had 407 crossdated rings (NCDC 2006). This was a subfossil log from the lake; its limiting dates are 1432-1838 (Guyette and Cole 1999). If you want a live tree, tree 042072 might still be living at Wilmington Notch, New York. When collected in 1982 by Ed Cook, this sample had 350 rings (NCDC 2006).
was a valued source of naval stores in the 1700s, and large tracts were once reserved for exploitation by the Royal Navy (
). This exploitation began in 1652, and by 1775 the easy sources of wood for masts had been largely logged off (Ponting 1991). (Note: also in 1652, John Hull of Boston established the New England Mint; his largest issue was a coin ornamented by a pine tree, surely
(Connor 1994).) The logging continued through the 1700s and 1800s for masts, buildings, and furniture (
). Because of extensive lumbering, few uncut stands remain (
). As time went by, the locus of devastation migrated westward, and has left a legacy in the form of historic buildings framed with pine from Maine to Minnesota. An enjoyable review of the species' importance in historical Minnesota can be found
In modern times, it is an important horticultural species (
). Twice (as of 2017) it has served as the
U.S. Capitol Christmas tree
, the only pine ever selected for that duty.
Some fine old-growth stands are said to remain in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, despite extensive historical logging (Thompson
2006). The stand at Cathedral Grove, Minnesota (Anderson et al. 2002) sounds interesting; researchers there built deer exclosures and found that deer and snowshoe hare browsing had been virtually eliminating seedling recruitment in the stand.
Mast years at 3 to 5 year intervals provide a seed crop important to wildlife (
White pine blister rust
), an introduced fungal disease, has decimated formerly extensive stands of this and certain other white pines (
Eastern white pine is the provincial tree of Ontario and the state tree of Maine and Michigan (
A decline syndrome has recently been identified in which trees exhibit deformed foliage and produce stress crops of cones shortly before dying. It may be caused or exacerbated by air pollution (
American Forest. 2007. National Register of Big Trees.
Anderson, C.E., K.A. Chapman, M.A. White, and M.W. Cornett. 2002. Effects of browsing control on establishment and recruitment of eastern white pine (
L.) at Cathedral Grove, Lake Superior highlands, Minnesota, USA.
Natural Areas Journal
Blozan, Will. [no date]. Historical photos. http://www.nativetreesociety.org/galleries/historical/historical_photos.htm, accessed 2007.08.27, now
Connor, Sheila. 1994.
New England Natives, A Celebration of People and Trees.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 274 pp. ISBN 0-674-61350-3.
Guyette, R.P. and W.G. Cole. 1999. Age characteristics of coarse woody debris (
) in a lake littoral zone.
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
[NCDC 2006] Data accessed at the National Climatic Data Center World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Tree-Ring Data Search page, 2006.09.08. URL:
Ponting, C. 1991.
A Green History of the World
. New York: St. Martin's Press, 432 pp. ISBN 0-312-06989-1.
Riddle, Jess. 2016. Re: Warwoman Road Update.
, accessed 2017.11.04.
Thompson, I.D., J.H. Simard, and R.D. Titman. 2006. Historical changes in white pine (
L.) density in Algonquin Park, Ontario, during the 19th century.
Natural Areas Journal
Prasad and Iverson 1999
Copyright 2018 The Gymnosperm Database
Edited by Christopher J. Earle
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Last Modified 2018-01-20