Minnesota Profile: Eastern White Pine ( Pinus strobus )
White pines can grow more than 100 feet tall with a trunk diameter of more than 40 inches. They can live to be more than 200 years old. A typical large white pine in Minnesota is 80 feet tall, 16 inches in diameter, and 80 years old.
In Minnesota, white pines are in the northern, central, and eastern parts of the state; also found scattered along the Mississippi River as far south as Houston County.
White pine grows best in partial shade on medium to fine soils that have a good moisture supply.
White pines have straight trunks with a pyramid-shaped crown. Older trees often are flat on top. The soft, flexible needles, which occur in bundles of five, are blue-green on top and whitish beneath.
White pine blister rust, white pine weevil, and browsing deer kill or retard the growth of many white pines.
Loggers reached the pine lands of east-central Minnesota in the late 1830s. During the next 80 years, most of the choice, large white pines across the state fell to the saw. Agricultural development, urban growth, and extremely hot wildfires that fed on logging slash also took their toll, as did drought, disease, insects, pollutants, and animal browsing. In recent years, many Minnesotans have voiced concern about the loss of white pines.
In response, the DNR formed a White Pine Regeneration Strategies Work Group in 1996 to help ensure that the white pine once again becomes a healthy component of Minnesota's northern forests. Efforts are underway to increase the number of white pines in the state.
By Gaylord Paulson, DNR Forestry White Pine Management Coordinator