The western white pine (Pinus monticola) is related to the eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) differing from it in having a more rounded form, wide-reaching limbs and larger cones. The western white pine is native to the western part of the United States, specifically the Sierra Nevada, the Cascades, and the northern Rocky Mountains. It is the state tree of Idaho. The western white pine grows rapidly, attaining heights of 175 feet and trunk diameters from 5 to 8 feet. The needles grow in bundles of five. The bark of the mature western white pine is brownish-gray and broken into small block-like shapes. The wood is ideally suited for building applications including window and door frames, paneling and shelving. Western White Pine is closely related to the Eastern White Pine and replaced it as a source for timber after the virgin forests in the East were depleted. Its wood is the source of most matchsticks. P. monticola is the State Tree of Idaho. May live beyond 400 years. The specific epithet, monticola, is the Latin for “growing on mountains”
Common name: Western white pine, Mountain White Pine, Idaho Pine, Silver Pine, California Mountain Pine.
Scientific Name (family and order): Pinus monticola Douglas ex D. Don (Pinaceae, Pinales)
Species Origin: Western North America
New Jersey Status: USDA Unreported
Habit: 100 – 170’ high; Bole 2 -4’ diameter. Very large tree, straight with large trunk.,
Trunk/Stem: On mature trees the silver gray bark is broken into small, squarish plates. Branches widely spaced in distinct tiers.
Habitat: Hardy to Zone 4.
Leaves: Evergreen; needle-like in clusters of five; 2 -3” long, needles slender, twisted. Pale green above; blue-green with white lines beneath.
Flowers: Monoecious. Males cones are yellow; female are reddish purple. Starts to flower at 7 years.
Fruits and seeds: Cone 5 – 12” long, reddish brown. Narrowly ovoid to cylindrical when open. Hangs from 1” long curved pedicels. Cone scales lack prickles. Open cone has folded back scales. In the Rockies this pine has the longest cones of any native conifer. It seeds are small (3/16”) and have slender wings.