White Pine

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus L.)

Eastern White Pine

The White Pine (or Eastern White Pine) can reach magnificent heights of 80 feet or more when fully mature, so its considered to be the largest pine in the U.S. Its soft needles are flexible and soft and usually take on a bluish-green to silver-green color.

People with allergies may find that they prefer the White Pine’s little to no scent, especially if they find their allergies are triggered by the more fragrant varieties.

As a Christmas Tree, the White Pine is very popular because of its great needle retention and dense color. Needles are arranged in bundles of 5 and are usually 2.5″ to 5″ long.

Pests and Risk Factors

The White Pine is resilient and somewhat resistant to fire, so mature trees that survive a burn are capable of reseeding burned areas.

At one time, Blister Rust was a big threat to the White Pine and caused a 50-80% mortality rate in mature pine groves. After a coordinated campaign was launched to eliminate plants that served as alternate hosts, the mortality rate is now only about 3% today.

The White Pine Weevil also likes to lay its eggs inside the tree, which eventually leads to the tree’s destruction.

Range and Growing Conditions

Northeastern North America was once covered in white pine forests, but today only a small percentage of those original trees remain untouched from extensive logging operations starting in the 18th century to the early 20th century.

Virgin stands of the White Pine can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; some Canadian provinces; Michigan; Wisconsin; Minnesota; Illinois; Pennsylvania; and Linville Gorge, North Carolina.

White Pines tend to thrive in cooler and humid climates, but can also be found growing in rocky highlands. The soil should be well drained to promote optimal growth.

Uses for the White Pine

Historically speaking, tall white pines of 24′ or more were reserved for making ship masts, and prior to the Revolutionary War were reserved exclusively for the British Royal Navy.

Of course, using the White Pine as a Christmas Tree is hugely popular given its needle retention and ability to not trigger most people’s allergies.

As for lumber, this tree has been harvested far and wide in great amounts over the centuries. When freshly cut, the wood has a beautiful pale straw or creamy white color, but darkens to a deeper orange.