Western White Pine

Idaho State Tree

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Western white pine (Pinus monticola)

Western white pine (Pinus monticola) in the Sierra Nevada forests; photo by Miguel Vieira  on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Western White Pine

The majestic western white pine (Pinus Monticola pinaceae) was designated the official state tree of Idaho in 1935. The largest and best western white pine forests can be found in northern Idaho in the Coeur d’Alene and Bitterroot Mountains (the tree is often called the soft Idaho white pine or just the Idaho white pine).

The western white pine tree grows in the mountains of the western United States and Canada (in the Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Range, the Coast Range, and the northern Rocky Mountains), extending down to sea level in many areas. Western white pine wood is soft, straight-grained, and evenly textured (used to make everything from houses to wooden matches).

Western white pine is a large tree, growing 30-50 meters (and sometimes up to 70 meters) tall. It is related to eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), but western white pine cones are larger, and it also has slightly longer-lasting leaves (needles) than the eastern white pine.

The western white pine is widely grown as an ornamental tree, but has been heavily logged throughout much of its range and has also been seriously affected by white pine blister rust (a fungus that was introduced from Europe in 1909). The U.S. Forest Service has a program for locating and breeding rust-resistant western white pine and sugar pine (seedlings of these trees have been introduced into the wild).

Idaho

Images

Western white pine cones (Pinus monticola); photo by 5u5 on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Western white pine cones (Pinus monticola)

Western white pine needles (Pinus monticola); photo by 5u5 on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Western white pine tree needles (Pinus monticola)