White Pine Notecard

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White Pine (Pinus strobus)

The Eastern White Pine is the tallest tree species that grows in the East: it grew to heights over 220 feet. For a building material it has no peers; it was so prized by early lumbermen that it became the only tree species, historically, that was the goal of exploration. The location of prime white pine stands along rivers were soon followed by small settlements.

White pine is a highly adaptable species and ranges widely from Northern Maine and central Ontario to Minnesota southward to Georgia. By 1910 it was nearly wiped out commercially! The exploitation of white pine throughout the East surely ranks with the decimation of the buffalo and passenger pigeons. By the end of the nineteenth century clear white pine lumber was a rarity.

Though the vast virgin stands of tall white pine of the past centuries are gone, the tree has made a great comeback throughout most of its former range. It is an aggressive pioneer species that readily invades old fields and forest openings. Stands of old growth white pine are extremely rare, but a few small uncut patches still survive in preserves. Hartwick Pines State Park in Michigan and Heart's Content Preserve in Pennsylvania are two fine such examples.

The white pine was sacred to the Iroquois Indian Nations and was called the "Tree of Peace" because it was chosen as the tree to bury their war hatchets under; a pact of common peace was thereafter initiated.

Few things are as soothing and peaceful as listening to the wind blowing through the boughs of great tall white pine trees. In the forest they grow to well above the rest of the canopy when mature. In their habit, grace, and beauty they stand majestic and seem to rule over all the other trees of the Eastern forests.

artwork by Steve Sierigk © 2003 

text by Michael DeMunn

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