Crooked Run Valley
eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)
eastern white pine
northern white pine
Strobus strobus (L.) Small
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
TAXONOMy: The currently accepted scientific name of eastern white pine is Pinus strobus L. Little recognizes two varieties: the typical variety
and Chiapas white pine (Pinus strobus var. chiapensis Mart.). Chiapas
white pine, native to the mountains of southern Mexico and Guatemala,
is also recognized as a separate species, Pinus chiapensis (Mart.) Andresen. This writeup discusses the typical variety, eastern white pine.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Eastern white pine is
a large, native, evergreen conifer. It grows rapidly and in 40 years can be
60 feet (18.3 m) tall and 8 to 10 inches (20-25 cm) in d.b.h. Individuals of
150 feet (46 m) and 40 inches (102 cm) in d.b.h. were common in virgin
forests. Eastern white pine commonly reaches 200 years of age and may
exceed 450 years. In closed stands, boles are free of branches for over
two-thirds of their length. Needles are 2.5 to 5.0 inches (6-13 cm) long,
and the winged seeds are about 0.8 inches (2 cm) long. The roots are
widespreading and moderately deep without a distinct taproot.
REGENERATION PROCESSES: Eastern white pine begins producing
cones when 5 to 10 years old, but good seed production does not occur until trees are at least 20 to 30 years old. Good seed years occur every 3 to 5 years, with some seed produced in intervening years. Seeds are dispersed
primarily by wind. Seeds travel 200 feet (60 m) within a stand and more
than 700 feet (210 m) in the open. Animals also disperse seeds. Gray
squirrel seed caches were responsible for white pine reproduction under
red oak (Quercus rubra) stands in southern New Hampshire. White-footed
mice and red-backed voles bury caches containing 20 to 30 eastern white
pine seeds beneath the litter but on top of the mineral soil. Caches that
escape revisitation and decimation produce seedlings. Favorable seedbeds
include moist mineral soil, mosses (Polytrichum spp.), and short grass cover of light to medium density. Dry mineral soil, pine litter, lichen, and very thin or very thick grass covers are poor seedbeds in full light but adequate in shade. Eastern white pine shows very limited delayed emergence the second year after seed fall, and none after 3 years. Eastern white pine colonizes disturbed sites; when colonizing oldfields, eastern white pine is more likely to become established in openings than under herbs. Even though seedling emergence and survivorship are higher under herbs, so too is seed and seedling predation by rodents. Eastern white pine seedlings require at least 20 percent of full light for survival. They achieve
maximum height growth in 45 percent of full light. Early growth is slow,
but between 10 and 20 years of age, the average annual height growth is
about 16 inches (40 cm) per year. Eastern white pine does not reproduce
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Eastern white pine occurs on a variety of
sites along the full moisture gradient from wet bogs and moist stream
bottoms to dry sand plains and rocky ridges. In Maine and New Brunswick, eastern white pine occurs in well drained, raised bogs; in Michigan, it occurs on sand dunes. In the southern Appalachian Mountains and in Pennsylvania, pure stands mainly occur on northerly aspects, in coves, and on streambottoms. Eastern white pine is common on the east shore of lakes where blowdowns create openings for regeneration. In New England, eastern white pine usually occurs between sea level and 2,000 feet (610 m) in elevation. In the southern Appalachian Mountains, it occurs between 1,200 and 3,500 feet (370-1,070 m). Eastern white pine grows on nearly all soil types within its range. It is most competitive on fairly infertile sandy soils, such as well-drained outwash soils. On clay or poorly drained soils, eastern white pine occurs only as individuals or in small groups. It grows on fine sandy loams and silty loams on disturbed sites if there is little hardwood competition. Eastern white pine is the characteristic old-field species in New England. Nearly pure stands develop on old fields where seed is ample and sod is intact. In the Hudson River valley, eastern white pine dominates the finer textured, less rocky old-field sites, whereas oak communities dominated the coarser textured, rockier sites.
Tree associates of eastern white pine include sweet birch (Betula lenta), bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), black cherry (Prunus serotina), and black oak (Quercus velutina). Understory species are scarce in pure stands of eastern white pine. On dry sites, associates include blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), dwarf bush-honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina), bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), clubmosses (Lycopodium spp.), and broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus). On moist, rich sites associates include wood sorrel (Oxalis spp.), partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), and hay-scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula). Other associates include bigleaf aster (Aster macrophyllus), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), and bunchberry (Cornus canadensis).
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Eastern white pine is intermediate in shade
tolerance and is present in all successional stages. It is a pioneer species on oldfields and other disturbed sites, a long-lived successional species, and a climax species on dry, sandy soils. Eastern white pine is sometimes a component of climax forests on certain sites such as steep slopes and ridge tops where windfall provides regeneration opportunities. More shade-tolerant species succeed eastern white pine.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Eastern white pine male reproductive
organs open and shed pollen in April through June, depending on latitude.
Fertilization occurs 13 months after pollination. Cones ripen and seeds are
dispersed August through September, about 2 years after cone initiation.
Seeds germinate in the spring. Terminal shoot growth is usually completed
by the end of June.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Eastern white pine is distributed from
Newfoundland west to extreme southeastern Manitoba and south to the
Great Lake States, along the Atlantic seaboard to New Jersey, and in the
Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia. It also occurs in Iowa,
western Kentucky, western Tennessee, and Delaware.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:
Tree specimens can be found on trails marked in red.
Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
South Ridge/North Ridge
Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: Eastern white pine
frequently dominates or codominates dry northern pine forests. In mixed
hardwood forests, it often occurs as a scattered dominant tree towering
above the surrounding hardwoods.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Eastern white pine provides food and
habitat for numerous wildlife species. Songbirds and small mammals eat
eastern white pine seeds. Snowshoe hares, white-tailed deer, and cottontails browse the foliage; the bark is eaten by various mammals.
Pocket gophers graze the roots of seedlings and young trees. Northeastern pine forests can support a rich community of breeding birds. Bald eagles build nests in living eastern white pine, usually at a main branch located below the crown top. Eastern white pine, especially those with broken tops, provide valuable habitat for cavity-nesting wildlife. Young black bear cubs use large eastern white pine to climb to safety. In northeastern Minnesota, black bear mothers and cubs spent more than 95 percent of the time in April and May within 600 feet (180 m) of either an eastern white pine or an eastern hemlock larger than 20 inches (50 cm) in d.b.h.
Eastern white pine is used extensively for stabilizing strip-mine spoils,
especially in northern Appalachian coal fields.
Eastern white pine is a valuable timber species in the eastern United
States and Canada. The soft wood is of medium strength, easily worked,
and stains and finishes well. It is used for doors, moldings, trim, siding,
panelling, cabinet work, and furniture.