|Pinus strobus L.|
|Beginning with the British colonists, eastern white pine (or white
pine) has proven to be one of the most important and most
desirable species of North America. 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. In colonial times, white pines above
24 inches 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.
Leaves (needles) are soft, flexible and bluish-green to silver green
in color and are regularly arranged in bundles of five. Needles are
2 1/2-5 inches long and are usually shed at the end of the second
growing season. Both male and female flowers (strobili) occur on
the same tree, with pollination occurring in spring. Cones are 4-8
inches in length, usually slightly curved and mature at the end of
the second season. Cone scales are rather thin and never have
prickles. Cones also have exudations of a fragrant gummy resin.
Bark on young trunks and branches is smooth and tends to be
greenish-brown in color. On older trunks, the bark becomes dark
gray and shallowly fissured. Limbs tend to persist, particularly on
trees grown without severe competition.
White pine is intermediate in shade tolerance and is commonly
associated with eastern hemlock and various northern hardwoods.
It is found on many different sites including dry rocky ridges and
wet sphagnum bogs, but best development is on moist sandy
loam soils. Extensive logging has destroyed most of the original
pine forests, but the species is aggressive in reproducing itself
and may be found throughout its original range. Due to its
desirability and relative ease of nursery production it has also
been a major species for reforestation in the northeastern
United States and Canada.
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|For Christmas trees, sheared
trees are preferred, although
some people feel shearing
results in trees too dense
for larger ornaments. Needle
retention is good to excellent.
White pine has very little aroma,
but, conversely, is reported to
result in fewer allergic reactions
than do some of the more
aromatic species. To produce
a 6-foot tree requires 6-8
years on good sites.
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