In 1953, the Minnesota Legislature designated the Norway pine as the state's official tree. Although most of the state's oldest Norway pines were cut after European settlement, Minnesota still had 300,000 acres of Norway pine forest as of 1990.
General description:The Norway pine is also called the red pine because of its pale red wood and reddish bark. Branches on mature trees don't begin until about two-thirds of the way up the tree trunk. The crown of the Norway pine is cone-shaped and the needles are glossy green.
Mature Size: Up to 80 feet tall and 36 inches in diameter. The biggest Norway pine in Minnesota (in Chippewa National Forest near the Lost Forty Trail) is 120 feet tall and 37 inches in diameter.
Color: Reddish bark with green needles.
Tree Growth: For the first 50 years, Norway pines grow about one foot per year. Between age 50 to 100, the growth rate is about a half of foot per year. For the next 40 years, the rate continues to slow. Norways start producing cones at age 15 to 25 years and only produce a small amount of cones every three to seven years.
Habitat and range
Norway pines grow best in sand plains and gravel ridges. In Minnesota, they are commonly found from the Twin Cities north to the Canadian border.
Population and management
Itasca State Park in central Minnesota has one of the state's largest stands of Norway pines--about 5,000 acres. Because Norway pine is a good timber-producing tree, more Norways have been planted in Minnesota than any other tree. They are also planted for erosion control, as snow and wind breaks and as Christmas trees.
The name Norway comes from early explorers who thought the tree was a pine they had seen back home in Norway. The Norway pine is extremely resistant to insects and disease.