Western White Pine

Pinus Monticola

The western white pine is type of pine that grows in the western mountains of the United States and Canada. Other names it is know by are the Idaho white pine; silver pine or mountain white pine.

The state tree of Idaho, adopted in 1935, the western white pine often grows to a height from fifty to seventy meters and it is at a low risk of becoming extinct.  According to the state of Idaho web site, “the largest western white pine in the world stands 219 ft. high near Elk River, Idaho.” It is closely related to the eastern white pine but has larger cones and grows taller.

The Western White Pine Tree
The Western White Pine Tree

The western white pine is monoecious, with male and female cones on the same tree. Cones range from twelve to thirty two cm in length, with the seeds are close to four to seven millimeters long, and have a long skinny wing about fifteen to twenty-two millimeters.

The cones of the western white pine
The cones of the western white pine

When healthy stands of western white pine are unaffected by disease, they reach an age of over three hundred years. The western white pine has been dangerously damaged by the White Pine Blister Rust, a fungus accidentally introduced from Europe in the early 1900’s. It is estimated by the United States Forest Service that over 85 percent of the white pines west of the Cascades have been eradicated by the white pine blister rust fungus. There are efforts being made to use genetically resistant strains to improve the resistance to the fungus, thereby improving the new stands of western white pine being grown.

Western white pine has a unique value due to the non-resinous property of the wood and the fact that the branches are high up on the trunk, allowing for more wood to be harvested.  It is valued in construction being used for the sashing, door frames and interior paneling. It is also used for matchwood, toothpicks and in building construction.

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