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Eastern White Pine

Pinus strobus

The eastern white pine is also called northern white pine. It is one of the most valuable trees in eastern North America.

Eastern white pine does well on dry/fresh, even shallow and stony, coarse loamy soils.

It is a truly magnificent tree attaining a height of 80 feet or more at maturity with a diameter of two to three feet. White pine is considered to be the largest pine in the United States.

Eastern white pine is found across southern Canada from Newfoundland, Anticosti Island, and Gaspé peninsula of Quebec; west to central and western Ontario and extreme southeastern Manitoba; south to southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa; east to northern Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; and south mostly in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia and northwestern South Carolina. It is also found in western Kentucky, western Tennessee, and Delaware. A variety grows in the mountains of southern Mexico and Guatemala.

Best soil types

White pine grows on nearly all the soils within its range, but generally competes best on well drained sandy soils of low to medium site quality. These soils permit fair growth of white pine but not hardwoods. On these sandy sites, white pine regenerates naturally, competes easily, and can be managed most effectively and economically.

On medium-textured soils (sandy loams), Eastern White Pine will outproduce most other native commercial species in both volume and value. White pine also grows on fine sandy loams and silt-loam soils with either good or impeded drainage when there is no hardwood competition during the establishment period-as on old fields and pastures, bums, and blowdowns. It has been found on clay soils and on poorly drained or very poorly drained soils with surface mounds.

White pine can be very productive on these sites but usually occurs only as individual trees or in small groups. This pine should not be planted in heavy clay soils. Poorly drained bottom land sites and upland depressions are also poor choices for planting.

History/Lore of the Eastern White Pine

In colonial times, white pines above 24" in diameter were reserved for England to be used as ships masts. These trees were identified by blazing a broad arrow on the trunk. Because of the colonists general dislike of British rule, this "broad arrow" policy was one more source of friction between the two. Until about 1890, white pine was considered the species of choice for most commercial uses. It is the state tree of Maine and Michigan.

Eastern White Pine Problems

White pine was once a dominant forest species in the north central and northeastern United States. Following logging in the late 1800s and the early part of this century, two major pests, white pine blister rust, Cronartium ribicola J.C.Fisch., and white pine weevil, Pissodes strobi (Peck), combined to reduce the value of white pine. Blister rust was introduced into North America. The weevil is a native insect whose populations and damage increased greatly in newly established plantations following logging and in stands that originated from natural seeding of abandoned farmland.

These two pests, along with serious deer browsing problems in some areas, resulted in white pine acquiring a reputation as a poor choice with many forest managers. This is unfortunate since white pine has many excellent qualities and is an important component of numerous forest ecosystems.


White Pine Blister Rust

Symptoms vary with different stages of disease development. The most obvious symptom is a red needled branch "flag" caused by a blister rust canker girdling and killing a branch. These cankers can persist for several years before a branch is killed. Branch cankers can be either depressed or somewhat swollen with a definite color contrast between the canker and the greenish bark of younger white pine. Older cankers often exude resin. In early spring, orange-yellow, powdery masses of spores are produced on cankers. Cankers may progress along the branch to the main stem of the tree causing symptoms similar to those on branches.



Evergreen specimen trees ideal for the American Landscape