The southeastern White Pine Tree
The southeastern White Pine is native to Newfoundland, southern Canada, west to Minnesota and southeast Manitoba, then south along the Appalachian Mountains to the extreme north Georgia. These beautiful pines once grew in forests that covered much of the northeast of North America. Only one percent of the original trees remain. The White Pine is found in the following states: south of South East Minnesota, northwest Iowa, north Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, northwest South Carolina, western Tennessee, western Kentucky and Delaware. The White Pine is the state tree for Maine and Michigan.
Forested areas in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia include 35 million acres of White pine. The trees are found at elevations between 1,000 and 4,000 feet, with the pine growing best at mid-range on north or east-facing slopes.
The White Pine is the tallest tree in North America and one of the fastest growing. It reaches heights of 180 feet with trunks two feet in diameter. The tree bears flexible blue-green needles three to five inches long. Pine cones are four to seven inches in length. The needles grow in groups of five, the tree being an evergreen. It sheds needles year-long as new needles are formed to replace them. In thick stands, lower branches that do not receive enough sunlight each day will die and eventually break off during storms or high winds.
The branches originate from the terminal growing tip. The distance between branches represents one year of growth. These majestic trees live up to 200 years or more. The bark of young trees is thin, smooth and gray-green in color. As the tree ages, the bark turns a thick reddish-brown to gray-brown.
Temperature, Soil, Rainfall
The White Pine can be found where the July temperatures are between 65 and 74 degrees F. Annual rainfall is between 20 and 80 inches per year. The depth of frost penetration is safe up to 70 inches or more. Soils that the White Pines grow in include well-drained sandy soils, sandy loams and fine sand and silt loams. This is why the trees often grow in old fields, pasture land, burns or along river streams.
The White Pine was extensively logged during the 1700 and 1800s for lumber mills. The pine was preferred because of the great heights and straight trunks for building. They could also be cut down and processed in a lumber mill one year later, opposed to hardwoods that had to be cut immediately to prevent huge cracks. During Colonial days, the wood was used to make panels for floors and walls and to build furniture. The wood was also prized as masts for sailing ships.
Today, the wood is used for shelving and furniture. The wood is soft and easy to work with. The knots are prized for their unique look in furniture. Many forest animals make their home in the upper-most branches of the White Pine. All species of squirrels build nest of hardwood leaves, pine needles, hardwood twigs and young branches and plants from the forest floor. Mourning Doves and hawks prefer the tall tree for safety and as a vantage point for the hawk.