February 2023 Newsletter

Pine Trees 

Identification:  Needles are in clusters of 5, soft to touch, 2.5-5 inches in length, bluish-green needles with a whitish tinge. Smooth greyish-green bark when young, dark and ridged when mature . The cones are cylindrical when closed and about 10 to 25cm long.  Eastern White Pine is Ontario’s tallest tree reaching 100-150 feet in height.


Requirements:  Best on well drained to moist, sand and sandy loams.  Prefers acidic soils.  Tolerates part shade when young.  Can be planted under a canopy of taller trees to help avoid white pine weevil problems. Does not do well with air pollution.  Grows well with Red Pine, Maple, Ash and Beech.


Uses:  Forage and shelter for wildlife, reforestation, cultivated for Christmas trees, wind breaks, shade from sun and timber plantations. Was used for ship masts and spars during the Colonial period.  Serves as the provincial tree of Ontario.  The outer bark can be hung in strips to dry, then pounded into a flour and is considered to be an excellent survival food.  

Identification:  Needles are in bunches of two, between 4-6 inches long, shiny dark green in colour and concentrate toward the tips of branches.  Red Pine bark forms reddish-gray to reddish-orange scaly, flaky plates that becomes furrowed with age.  The trunk is usually slender and straight with lower branches that readily detach from the trunk.   Cones are short egg like shaped that are up to 2.5 inches in length.  It takes the cones two years to mature and release their seeds.   It's height can reach 70-120 feet tall at maturity.


Requirements: Good on infertile, well-drained, sandy, gravelly soils that are acidic. Requires full sun and space to grow. Is not tolerant of air pollution and salt damage.  With its strong root system and sparse foliage they have a high resistant to damage from wind.  Grows well with White Pine and Aspen. 


Uses: Forage and shelter for wildlife, reforestation and timber plantations. The Pine needles are infused with antioxidants and vitamin A and C to be used as a immune boosting tea.

Identification:  Clusters of 2 short, yellow-green needles. Bark is thin, reddish-gray when young; dark brown flaky and ridged when mature. Often have a scraggly appearance, retaining dead branches longer than other pine species.  The cones have distinctly curved shape and sealed shut with resign.  Jack Pine cones can hang unopened onto the branches for up to 10 years. Their height varies greatly depending on growing conditions from 30 to 70 feet tall. 


Requirements: This Pine tolerates very poor quality soils such as shallow, sandy, gravelly, dry sites. They need full sunlight, very shade intolerant and grow well with White Birch, Trembling Aspen, Balsam Poplar, Red Pine and Tamarack.  


Uses:  Forage and shelter for wildlife.  It is considered a ‘pioneer’ tree in that it is fast growing, sun-loving, and often the first to colonize disturbed sites such as burned areas.  It can shelter the shade tolerant seedling when young to get establish.  For example, when starting a Sugar Maple bush the Jack pine can shelter the young seedlings from the elements.

Resources: Trees in Canada book, Forest, Tree, University of Guelph