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Bristlecone Pine

Eastern White Pine

Jack Pine

Lodgepole Pine

Mountain Pine

Mugo Pine

Ponderosa Pine

Red Pine

Scots Pine

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When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
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Jack Pine in open field

Jack pine at the school I worked at. The kids liked to climb it.


Pines

Pinus

Pines have the longest needles of the needle bearing trees. Even the shortest of them has needles that are 1.5" long. Of the trees we carry, Ponderosa pine has the longest needles at 5-6 inches.

Pines all carry their needles at the end of the twig, giving them a tufted appearance. The needles are in clumps, with either 2, 3 or 5 needles in a clump. Often there is a papery sheath around the base of the clump.

The Two Needle Pines

This group includes Lodgepole, Jack, Scots, Red, Mountain and Mugo Pine.

The first 4 of these are hard to tell apart when young.

Lodgepole and Jack are fire succession species: Most of the cones remain sealed with pitch until the pitch is softened by a fire. The cones open up, spill lots of seed on the ground. The mice and squirrels can't eat it all. Four years later the place looks like a Christmas tree farm run amok, with a skinny tall tree every few inches.

Bristlecone Pine

Probably about 40 years old, this bristlecone pine is just starting out on its life journey.


When they grow in a stand like this, both trees become very tall, with few needles on branches below the crown.

When grown in the open, both tend to be a lot sloppier. Overall I think they just grow toward the light. In the open their is light everywhere, so that's the way they grow. Jack tends to go crazy earlier in life. With judicious pruning, jacks are good candidates for bonsai, either for pot or for garden. (Side note: The size of bonsai is measured in hands: A 1 hand bonsai is tiny, and it's pot can be picked up with one hand. Two hand bonsai are for table tops. An 8 hand bonsai required 4 sturdy men to carry it.)

Lodgepole seem to have the idea that up is great, but out is good. For the first 15 years they are nicely symmetrical.

Scots pine as youngsters tend to be a bit wider, and more full.

Both lodgepole and Scots, go yellowish in winter.

Red pine seems to stay a bit greener in winter. Time will tell.

Mountain and Mugo pine are very closely related. Some taxonomists consider mountain to be a subspecies of mugo. Mugo pines are nominally small, multi-stemmed, very low growing. But there is a huge variation in the genotype. (What geneticists call a 'plastic' genome) So if you get a natural mugo, don't plant it right next to the house. It may be a gentle one, and grow 6 feet tall. Or it may be a frisky one that grabs the gutters, and reaches longingly for the chimney.

Mountain pines are mugo's big brothers. They can be single or multi-stemmed, and eventually range from 30 to 50 feet tall. Like mugos they aren't very good about 'straight' Mountain pines have the potential to be wonderful climbing trees for kids. However they aren't fast growers. Plant now for grand kids.

Mature Ponderosa

Picture postcard portrait of a mature Ponderosa Pine. This one is probably two hundred years old.


Three Needle Pines

The only one that I have is ponderosa pine. And it sometimes varies, with some clusters of 2 needles. It has the longest needles of any of our pines, as long as 6" if it gets enough water. There are four subspecies of ponderosa. We have 'scopularum' commonly called rocky mountain ponderosa or sometimes black hills ponderosa. This is one of my favourite trees. To many years watching Bonanza as a kid, I guess.

Needle colour has a bit of grey to it, as if dusty.

Eventually this tree gets very large, with orange bark plates separated by dark fissures.

Eastern White Pine

One of my white pines.


Five Needle Pines

I've got three at present, Bristlecone pine, swiss stone, and Eastern White. I hope to get Western White, Limber, and Whitebark eventually.

All of the 5 needle pines have very thin flexible needles, almost like a coarse paint brush. Growth rates are variable, with bristlecone and stone pine being very slow, and both the eastern and western white pines being very fast. They are relatively uncommon around here. I know that both white pines are present in Calgary, so they should do well here.

More Information About Pines

The Gymnosperm Database Pines Overview of the pine family, with acladogram (family tree based on genetic similarity)


Got something to say? Email me: sfinfo@sherwoods-forests.com

Want to talk right now? Talk to me: (8 am to 9 pm only, please) 1-780-848-2548


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.