Characteristics of Western White Pine (Pinus monticola) in the Wild

Pinus monticola
The Western white pine or Silver pine (Pinus monticola) is a species of pine that grows in the mountains of the western United States and Canada, particularly the Sierra Nevada, Cascade Range, Coast Range, and the northern Rocky Mountains. Its distribution extends to sea level in many areas, especially in Oregon and Washington. This tree is found at elevations from 1,800 to 3,000 m asl on the western face of the Sierra Nevada as far south as the headwaters of the Kern River.

The Western white pine is related to the Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), differing from it having larger cones and slightly more durable leaves with more prominent, and somewhat denser, stomatal bands.

The Western white pine is widely grown as an ornamental tree but has been heavily logged in most of its range in the past.

Similar to Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis), western white pine (Pinus monticola) has also been seriously affected by white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), a fungus that was accidentally introduced from Europe in the 1900s.


Characteristics of Western White Pine Leaf

Pinus monticola Leaf

The leaves are needle-like, spiny in bundles of five, 4-10 cm long, stiff, straight, triangular, grayish-green, with a pointed or blunt tip, and last 3-4 years on shoots.

The shoots are elliptical or cylindrical, reddish-brown, slightly resinous, and up to 4-5 mm long. Very young shoots are glossy, greenish to gray-brown.


Characteristics of Western White Pine Fruit

Pinus monticola Fruit

Male inflorescences are pale yellow, ellipsoidal and 1-1 cm long. The female inflorescences are solitary or in groups of 3 (rarely up to 5), yellowish and apical.

The cones are 15-20 cm long, cylindrical narrow, and often curved, green to purple, fawn, and resinous. The seeds are light brown, 5-7 mm long, and 2-2.5 cm long wings.


Characteristics of Western White Pine Tree

Pinus monticola Tree

Western white pines are large trees, in favorable places they can grow to a height of 50 meters and very tall up to 70 meters. The trunk can reach a diameter of 2 meters. It is a member of the white pine group, Pinus subgenus Strobus, and like all members of that group, the leaves (‘needles’) are in fascicles (bundles) of five, with fallen sheaths.

This tree has a fairly long life, generally, it can live more than 600 years.

The best western pine forests in the coastal areas of Washington and Oregon grow in deep porous, nutrient-poor sandy soils. Soils are generally of moderate depth and acid reaction.


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