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Pinus monticola is often confused with:
Pinus strobus Pinus strobus
Native alternative(s) for Pinus monticola:
Pinus strobus Pinus strobus
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Pinus strobus Pinus strobus
Pinus ponderosa Pinus ponderosa
Pinus thunbergii Pinus thunbergii

Pinus monticola

Previously known as:

  • Pinus strobus subsp. monticola
  • Strobus monticola
Phonetic Spelling
PI-nus mon-TI-ko-la
Description

Western white pine is a tall pyramidal evergreen conifer tree that has a conical crown with horizontal branches and matures to a height of 100 feet. The counterpart of the western white pine is the eastern white pine, and it may be difficult to distinguish between the two. The western white pine tends to have stiff, dense blue-green needles, four stomatal bands on the inner surface, and larger cones than the eastern white pine.

This needled evergreen is native to the northern Rocky Mountains from British Columbia to Montana and is also found along the Pacific Coast through the Sierra Nevada and Central California. It is most often found in moist valleys to dry open sites.

The genus name, Pinus, is the Latin name for pines. The species epithet, monticola, means "inhabiting the mountains".

It grows best in full sun, moist, well-drained acidic soils.  

This evergreen is monoecious. The male cones are small, yellow, and cluster at the tips of the branches. The female cones appear on stalks at the tips of the upper branches and are larger, rounded, and yellowish-green to bright pink. Pollen is dispersed in late June and early July. The fruit cone may be solitary or in groups of 2 to 5 cones. They are large and, cylinder-like, and mature in the second season. Ripening occurs during August and September. During the warm weather, they may drip white resin. 

The seeds are eaten by birds as well as small mammals, and the foliage is enjoyed by deer and grouse. Small rodents eat the bark and wood, and the pine needles provide nesting materials.

The western white pine is native to the Pacific Northwest and is highly susceptible to blister rust. In North Carolina, it may be best to consider planting its counterpart, the eastern white pine.

Seasons of Interest:

Blooms: Summer       Foliage:  Year-round    Fruits: Summer and Fall (matures in 2 years)

Quick ID Hints:

  • bark is gray, thin, smooth, and becomes furrowed with rectangular plates with age
  • stems are pale reddish-brown and become purplish-brown or gray, smooth with age
  • needles are 5 fascicles, 1.6 to 4 inches long, 0.04 inches wide, blue-green
  • pollen cones 0.4 to 0.6 inches long and yellow
  • seed cones mature in 2 years, 4 to 5 inches long, tannish-brown to yellowish
  • seeds are 0.2 to 0.28 inches long, reddish-brown with a 0.8 to 1-inch longwing

Insect, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: The western white pine is susceptible to a very serious fungal disease known as blister rust which can kill the tree. A resistant strain is currently being developed. It is also susceptible to pole blight, needle blight, and funguses that affect the root system. Insect pests include bark beetles, mountain pine beetle, and red turpentine beetle.  This tree is susceptible to wind damage.  

VIDEO created by Ryan Contreras for “Landscape Plant Materials I:  Deciduous Hardwoods and Conifers or Landscape Plant Materials II:  Spring Flowering Trees and Shrubs” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Nana'
    dwarf shrub, 2 feet tall and wide, slow growing, short needles
  • 'Pendula'
    tree, 5 to 10 feet tall, pendulous branches, and bowed stem
'Nana', 'Pendula'
Tags:
#cultivars#evergreen#wildlife plant#needles#native tree#pyramidal#moths#conifer#food source wildlife#needled evergreen#deer resistant#nighttime garden#pollinator plant#nesting sites#larval host plant#moth larvae#wind damage prone#imperial moth#dense growth#tree#landscape plant sleuths course#cone
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Nana'
    dwarf shrub, 2 feet tall and wide, slow growing, short needles
  • 'Pendula'
    tree, 5 to 10 feet tall, pendulous branches, and bowed stem
'Nana', 'Pendula'
Tags:
#cultivars#evergreen#wildlife plant#needles#native tree#pyramidal#moths#conifer#food source wildlife#needled evergreen#deer resistant#nighttime garden#pollinator plant#nesting sites#larval host plant#moth larvae#wind damage prone#imperial moth#dense growth#tree#landscape plant sleuths course#cone
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Pinus
    Species:
    monticola
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    This tree is an important timber tree. It is used to make frames, sashes, doors, interior paneling, construct buildings, and also used for making matchsticks and toothpicks. Native Americans used the bark medicinally for stomach pains, wounds from cuts or sores, and to treat tuberculosis. They also chewed the pitch like chewing gum.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Grafting
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Western USA and Western Canada
    Distribution:
    United States: CA, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, and WA. Canada: Alberta, British Columbia
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant supports Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) larvae which have one brood per season and appear from April-October in the south. Adult Imperial Moths do not feed. Seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals. The foliage is eaten by deer and grouse. Small rodents eat the bark. The needles are used as nesting materials, and the tree is excellent for roosting and nesting.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Wildlife Nesting
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Horizontal
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a terminal cone that may be solitary or in groups of 2 to 5 cones. They are large and measure 5 to 12 inches long, are cylinder-like, and short-stalked. They mature in the second season and ripen during August and September. During the warm weather, they may drip globs of white resin. The color of the cones ranges from yellow or light brown to reddish-brown to dark brown. the seeds are reddish-brown, and 0.2 to 0.28 inches long with a 0.8 to 1-inch long wing. Cone production usually starts at age 7 and increases in production as the tree ages.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Pink
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    This evergreen is monoecious. The male cones or staminate strobili are small, yellow, and cluster at the tips of the branches. The female cones or ovulate strobili appear on stalks at the tips of the upper branches and are larger, rounded, and yellowish-green to bright pink. They appear in mid-June. Pollen is dispersed in late June and early July. The pollen cones or conelets are about 0.6 to 1.6 inches long at pollination and grow to 1 to 2 inches long by the end of the first growing season.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Shape:
    Acicular
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The needles are medium in size and length and appear in bundles of five. The needles are straight, pliable, blue-green, measure 2 to 4 inches long, and have 4 to 5 white stomatal lines on the inner surface. The margins are fine to sparsely serrate. The bundle sheath, if existent, measures 18 mm long. The needles are shed in the first year.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Scaly
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Rectangle
    Bark Description:
    The bark is gray, thin, and smooth. As the tree ages, the bark becomes furrowed and has rectangular scaly plates.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stems are slender, red-brown, slightly glandular, and with age become purple-brown to gray, and smooth. The buds are rust-colored, ellipsoid, 0.16 to 0.2 inches long, and slightly resinous.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer