Pinus strobus is found in the Nearctic Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests Biome of eastern North America. It prefers well-drained soil and cool, humid climates, but can also grow in boggy areas and rocky highlands. In mixed forests, this dominant tree towers over all others, including the large broadleaf hardwoods. It provides food and shelter for numerous forest birds, such as the Red Crossbill, and small mammals such as squirrels.
Like all members of the white pine group, Pinus subgenus Strobus, the leaves (‘needles’) are in fascicles (bundles) of five (rarely 3 or 4), with a deciduous sheath. They are flexible, bluish-green, finely serrated, and 5–13 cm (2.0–5.1 in) long, and persist for 18 months, i.e. from the spring of one season to the autumn of the next, when they are shed by abscission.
The cones are slender, 8–16 cm (3.1–6.3 in) long (rarely longer than that) and 4–5 cm (1.6–2.0 in) broad when open, and have scales with a rounded apex and slightly reflexed tip. The seeds are 4–5 mm (0.16–0.20 in) long, with a slender 15–20 mm (0.59–0.79 in) wing, and are wind-dispersed. Cone production peaks every 3 to 5 years.
While eastern white pine is self-fertile, seeds produced this way tend to result in weak, stunted, malformed seedlings.
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