Tree Service Hampton Roads Spotlight: Pinus strobus

Pinus strobus

TRADE NAME: Eastern white pine; Northern white pine

FAMILY: Pinaceae

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Distributed in Canada 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. Also occurs in Iowa, western Kentucky, western Tennessee and Delaware.

WOOD VALUE: Is a valuable timber species in the eastern U.S. and Canada. The soft wood is of medium strength, easily worked and stains and finishes well. Is used for doors, moldings, trim, siding, paneling, cabinet work and furniture.

OTHER USES: Is cultivated by plant nurseries as an ornamental tree for planting in gardens and parks. With regular shearing, it can also be trained as a hedge. Some cultivars are used in bonsai.


  • Is a large, native, evergreen conifer. It grows rapidly and in 40 years can be 60 feet tall and 8 to 10 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH).
  • 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 inches long; the winged seeds are about 0.8 inches long.
  • The roots are widespread and moderately deep, without a distinct taproot.
  • 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.
  • Specimens with broken tops provide valuable habitat for cavity-nesting wildlife.
  • Young black bear cubs use large specimens to climb to safety. In northeastern Minnesota, black bear mothers and cubs spend more than 95 percent of the time in April and May within 600 feet of either an eastern white pine or an eastern hemlock larger than 20 inches DBH.
  • Is intermediate in shade tolerance.
  • Leaves, or needles, are in fascicles (bundles) of five, or rarely three or four, with a deciduous sheath. They’re flexible, bluish-green, finely serrated, 2 to 5 inches long and persist for 18 months.
  • The cones are slender, 3.25 to 6.25 inches long, and 1.5 to 2 inches wide when open. They have scales with a rounded apex and slightly reflexed tip.
  • Cone production peaks every three to five years.

Management Considerations:

  • The two-cut shelterwood method is recommended for maximizing its regeneration. The first cut removes 40 to 60 percent of the overstory and the final cut occurs five to 10 years later after seedlings are well established. Established individuals respond well to release.
  • Two of its more damaging pests are the white pine weevil and white pine blister rust. Is infrequently planted in the north-central region because of the inevitable damage caused by the rust.
  • Germination and emergence are not greatly affected by soil acidity caused by acid rain.

Source: U.S. Forest Service (FS.Fed.US), USDA

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