Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
This species produces some of the largest trees in the province. White pine is the only native pine with bundles of five needles (red pine and jack pine needles come in bundles of two). The needles have a blueish tinge to them and feel quite soft. Though highquality trees have become harder and harder to find, white pine can grow to 100 ft. (30m) tall and over 4 ft. (1.2m) in diameter. The tops of older specimens often break off, giving them a flat-topped appearance. This makes them easy to pick out from a distance.
White pine grows on a variety of sites but does best on a moist, sandy soil. It can be found in mixed stands with red pine in the Murray River area and is quite common in hardwood mixes with eastern hemlock. Older specimens can also be found along property lines. Will tolerate a fair amount of shade.
The easiest way to propagate White Pine is to collect cones after the squirrels have cut them off the tree. Find large, healthy specimens that have a heavy seed crop and make regular trips to the site. Squirrels cut off the cones and accumulate large numbers under the tree before taking out the seeds. Place cones in a paper bag (this is a very messy job, since the cones exude resin) and store in a warm, dry place. The cones will open and the seed can be shaken out and stored in a cool, dry place. If the seeds are ready, plant in the fall, or you can wait until spring. Plant seeds every inch (2.5 cm), in rows 4 in. (10 cm) apart, at a depth of 114 in. (6 mm). Lightly mulch the planted area. Seed beds should be in a shaded area or you can place a shade table above the bed. Like most conifers, white pine seedlings are slow to develop but don’t let that deter you from planting them.
Many eagles nest in the tops of white pine, attracted by their height and wide, flat tops. Robin, blue jay and many other birds are known to build nests in thee trees and they make great homes for the cavity nesting species such as black-capped and boreal chickadee and red-breasted nuthatch. Seeds are favoured by pine siskin, junco, white-winged crossbill, redwinged crossbill, black-capped chickadee, boreal
chickadee and a host of other birds. Red squirrel, flying squirrel and chipmunk depend on pine seeds for food.
Areas of usage:
If you are working on restoring native forests, white pine is especially suited for planting in patch cuts made in stands of old field white spruce, or underplanting in mixed wood stands after a thinning. White pine that grow up stretching for the sun usually become tall, straight trees free of lower branches. It is a very attractive tree for planting around homes if you have enough space. Also, it can be pruned very heavily and kept as a small, dense tree. The wood is highly-valued and excellent for all kinds of woodworking, homebuilding and shipbuilding projects. Although the overall-quality of white pine has been degraded in the province, you can stillfind good sources of seed. It is increasingly important that the remnants of Acadian forests containing quality white pine should not be cut. With our help its past glory could be restored.