Eastern White Pine - Pinus Strobus L.

Eastern White Pines are extremely durable and can stand up to harsh weather conditions like snow and even fire.

Christmas tree farm of Eastern White Pines

Pinus Strobus L., Eastern White Pine, is a hardy tree from the Pinaceae (pine) family. White pines can grow to be 50-80’ tall and 20-40’ feet wide with preferable moist soil conditions, making it the largest conifer in the East. These pines reach full maturity from anywhere between 150-200 years old. The leaves are spiral shaped sets of 5 needles that grow to be 3-5 inches long. The pine’s fruit is the cone, which can grow to be up to 8 inches. Pine trees are the only species of trees that reproduce from seeds in a cone. Pines are ideal for the holiday season because they are widely used for Christmas decorations as Christmas trees or garland and their seeds and bark also entice popular winter animals such as hares, rabbits, deer and even black bears.
Notice the cluster of 5 needles on this pine leaf.

Eastern White Pines are conifers (cone bearers).


  1. The Pine Family
  2. Geographic Distribution of Eastern White Pines
  3. Domestic Use
  4. Historic Significance

1. The Pinaceae Family – The Pine Family:

There are roughly 115 members of the pine family, pinus being the largest genus of conifers (cone bearers). Most of these pines can be found in North America, where they are used for lumber and decorative purposes. There are some pines in Asia and Central America. The Pinaceae family is divided into two subgenera: Strobus and Pinus. Strobus are ‘soft pines’, which means they have bundles of needles in 5’s and softer timber than the Pinus group which have tougher cones and timber and are a darker shade of green. The Pine family is known for being tolerant to the elements such as snowstorms and fires, which makes them preferable for many landscapers and lumber producers.How-To-Choosing-A-Better-Christmas-Tree-White-Pine-600x450.jpg

Family History:
Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Plants with seeds
Division: Coniferophyta - Conifers (cone bearers)
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae - Pine family
Genus: Pinus
Species: Pinus strobus L. - Eastern White Pine

Other Relatives of the Pine Tree:
Other 'distant relatives' of the Eastern White Pine tree include Spruce trees, Douglas Firs and Cypress trees.

2. Geographic Distribution

White pines once covered nearly all of Northeastern North America but centuries of logging have cut down the number of White Pine forests. However, they are still found in most of the Eastern part of the United States and Canada, ranging from Maine to Arkansas and Alabama to Ontario. Eastern White Pines grow best in temperate and subtropical climates, which is reflected in the map of United States and Canada below.
Notice that E. White Pines aren't found on islands in RI. Island climates and conditions are not conducive to pines.

3. Domestic & Human Uses

Shorter White Pines are popular options for Christmas Trees for those on the East coast. They are preferable for many families due to their decreased shedding and lack of a pungent aroma (for allergen purposes). Branches of these pines are also used for holiday decorations such as wreaths and garlands due to their flexibility and soft needles. Many of the Christmas decorations (that are plants) you see around your house and on campus are made from the branches of Eastern White Pines.Today pine seeds are brewed into a strong tea, high in vitamin A and C. Check out this site for a further explanation of the benefits of pine tea here. Native Americans used all parts of the pine tree for food. The bark was ground as an addition to breads and the sap could be used for flavoring and as a sort of chewing substance like gum.
Eastern White Pines are preferable for landscapers since they can grow large enough to provide privacy barriers between properties. If given the proper climate conditions, pine trees require little upkeep as long as there is some water supply (natural or man-made). Pine trees are also a worthy investment for landscapers since they are durable and can stand for over 100 years. For the advanced landscaper, Eastern White Pines can be clipped to create a desired shape or fit a certain area which is a technique often used in public spaces, national parks and more.
Most importantly, lumber is a direct product of Eastern White Pines. Pine wood can be used for the interior composition of homes as well as for furniture and smaller novelties due to its durable yet flexible nature. Pine wood is especially popular since pine trees are so accessible and abundant in Northeastern America. Pines are also relatively cost effective as they require little upkeep and can withstand harsh conditions. This is also why having a Christmas tree farm can be a financially advantageous business venture if you have the space and conditions necessary to grow the necessary amount of trees.

4. Historic Significance

The pilgrims used Eastern White Pines as a chief export. The pines were shipped all over the world is ships MADE of white pine. Eastern White Pine was the preferred lumber source in ship building (especially for masts) due to it’s light weight yet sturdy composition. King George made sure to keep his source plentiful by having men mark the trees with the ‘Broad Arrow’ symbol which was done by hitting a hatchet into the tree in an arrow pattern to show that it was the property of the King. Naturally the colonists were angered due to the King’s assumption of property that was technically on the colonists newly settled land. The colonists continued to cut down the White Pines which led to continued fights with the British. The issue over lumber, among events like the Boston Tea Party, is one of the little known causes of the Revolutionary War.
Flags with similar sentiments were popular during the war to try to gain support against the British.