Eastern white pine

Pin blanc

Pinus strobus L.Pinaceae (pine family)

Origin: Eastern North America (native in Ontario). Ontario's provincial tree


Eastern white pine is a large tree with an irregular, lopsided crown when mature.

Read more about Tree, Bark, Twigs


Leaves are soft, flexible needles in bundles of 5.

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Pollen cones

Pollen cones are yellowish and borne in clusters at the tips of branches.

Read more about Pollen cones

Seed cones

Mature seed cones are long, brown and woody, often encrusted with white sticky resin.

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Eastern white pine is a large tree, up to 30 m (100') or more tall.

Young trees have a symmetrical conical crown.

Mature trees have a characteristic irregular, lopsided or wind-blown crown.

Bark on young trees is smooth and greyish-green.

On older trees, bark darkens and becomes thick with broad ridges and plate-like scales.

Twigs are flexible, hairy, and green in their first year, turning smooth and orange-brown as they age.

Buds are reddish-brown, pointed, up to 1.5 cm (just over 1/2") long, often encrusted with white resin.

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Leaves are evergreen needles, 5 - 15 cm (2" - 6") long, borne in bundles of 5.

The bundles of needles spiral around the twig.

Each needle is triangular in cross-section and has rows of tiny white dots that appear as stripes.

Needles are soft and flexible, especially when compared to other pines.

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Pollen cones

Pollen cones are 5 - 15 mm (3/16" - 5/8") long, yellowish, and borne in clusters at the tips of branches, below the newly emerging needles.

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Seed cones

Seed cones are brown, woody, 8 - 20 cm (3 1/8" - 7 3/4") long, hanging singly or in clusters from the branches,

Cones have 50 - 80, thin, rounded scales, often encrusted with sticky white resin. The scales open to release the seeds when mature.

Seeds are oval, with a long wing 18 - 25 mm (3/4" - 1").

Immature seed cones are green.

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Settlement of eastern Canada

Eastern white pine has played an important role in the settlement of eastern Canada. When Europeans first arrived in North America there were immense stands of eastern white pine with some trees reaching as much as 80 m (260') tall and over 3.5 m (11') in diameter. During the 18th and 19th centuries, many of these large, ancient pines were used to construct settlements - from barns to furniture - and to supply both the British Navy and the British merchant navy with ships' masts. The tall straight trees were felled, then "squared" on site, before being transported to a port for shipping across the ocean. White pine continues to be the tallest tree in eastern North America, often towering above the forest canopy, and can live about 400 years, but the giants that the first Europeans encountered are gone.

Derivation of names

The genus name, Pinus, is the classical name for the pines, from the Greek pinos, for pine tree. The species name, strobus, is an ancient name for an incense-bearing pine; the word is thought to be related to the Latin strobilus, meaning pine cone, and the Greek strobos, meaning whirling around- a reference to the structure of the cone. One of eastern white pine's common names is Weymouth pine, a name that is commonly used in Europe. This name is in reference to Lord Weymouth, who planted eastern white pine on his large estate in Wiltshire, England, in the 18th century.

Commercial use

White pine continues to be a valuable commercial timber tree. Its wood is fairly strong and easily worked, and is used to produce furniture, cabinets, lumber, and pulp. White pine is frequently planted in reforestation projects, and as a cultivated tree.

Wildlife value

The seeds of white pine are eaten by birds and small mammals and, in dense groupings, trees can provide shelter for birds and wildlife, especially owls.

Official status

White pine is the provincial tree of Ontario and state tree of Maine and Michigan.

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Eastern white pine IN TORONTO

Eastern white pine's place in Toronto's urban forest

Eastern white pine is native to the mixed and deciduous forests that originally covered southern Ontario. Preferring well drained soils, large old-growth pines often grew in association with red and white oak and towered above them. Today white pine grows along with mature hardwoods on the undisturbed mid to upper slopes of some of Toronto's ravines such as those in the Rouge Valley and Sunnybrook Park. Young trees are uncommon which means that there is very little natural regeneration. White Pine has been widely planted throughout the Greater Toronto Area in cultivated and natural settings.

Landscape value and potential for home planting

When given ample space to grow, a large white pine can be a magnificent addition to the urban forest. It does not tolerate urban conditions very well, so it should be planted in open sites far away from pollution, road salt, and traffic. White pine is fast-growing and grows best in sunny sites with well-drained acidic soils; it can tolerate some dry soil, but high pH soils (and pollution) will cause the needles to turn yellow.

Pests and diseases: White pine is susceptible to several native and introduced pests and diseases. The most serious of these are white pine blister rust and white pine weevil. White pine blister rust is caused by a fungus (Cronartium ribicola) that was introduced from Europe in the early 20th century. It can cause yellowing and dying foliage, with entire branches dying. If only affecting the branches, the disease may not be fatal and further spread may be halted by pruning the infected branch, but if the infection reaches the trunk, the tree will likely die. An infected tree with entirely yellowed needles is unlikely to be saved. Other signs include oozing cankers or a white substance on the bark.

White pine weevil (Pissodes strobi) is an insect that is native to North America and damages eastern white pine by attacking their leading shoot at the tip of the tree. Once this shoot is destroyed, the tree's side shoots begin to grow upward, thus creating a forked trunk and a deformed tree. Other pests and diseases affect eastern white pine: more information may be obtained at Natural Resources Canada factsheet.

This tree is available for planting through LEAF's backyard tree program.

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WHERE CAN I SEE Eastern white pine?

Find trees on Tree Tour maps at Canadian Tree Tours:

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