White Pine

Botanical Name: Pinus strobus

Other Common Names: Eastern White Pine

Brief Description and Notes: Eastern U.S. native evergreen tree, quick growing and long-lived. Can grow up to 100 feet tall. Needles occur in bundles of five. The brown cones take at least five years to appear. Needles can be harvested anytime, but can be a great source of nourishment in the less-lush winter times. 

Where To Look For It: Acidic, well-drained soil. Prefers sun or partial shade. Prefers cooler summer climates. Will not grow well in compacted soil. Does well on sandy sites. “Against the stronger competition of species such as the aspens, oaks, and maples, however, white pine usually fails to gain a place in the upper canopy and eventually dies” (USDA, Silvics of North America, p. 483).

Ecological Value & Roles & Other Notes: Important source of food and habitat for large range of wildlife. Due to commercial logging by colonizers, current populations of this species are lower than in pre-settlement forests.

Edibility and Other Human Use: Pine needles are edible (make either tea or syrup) and quite high in Vitamin C. You can also blend them with liquid and then sieve through a cloth for perhaps even more Vitamin C content. Do not over-harvest too much from any single tree.


Featured photo by James St. John

Information Sources:

Wild Wisdom, Awbury Arboretum, 2020

Missouri Botanical Garden

USDA Forest Service, Fire Effects Information Systems, Pinus strobus

USDA Forest Service, Silvics of North America Vol. 1