A Look At Several Common Types Of Pine Trees

While the 115 or so types of pine trees can be separated into several categories, it isn't always an easy task, as most member of the pine family can find a place in most of the more commonly defined categories. A study of the types of pine trees can be simplified somewhat by only considering the 20 or so pines native to North America, or imported from other lands. A fairly comprehensive view of types of pine trees can be accomplished by looking at 10 or so of the more popular or useful species.

The White Pines - Types of pines may be categories as giants, shrubs, landscaping, timber, white wood, ancient, you name it. Let's start with the white pines. There are several species of white pines and almost all are valuable as timber. The wood of most white pines is of a very high quality, usually soft, light, and easily workable, and therefore widely used in woodworking. The Western White Pine is widely used as timber. It is a large, though slow growing tree, often reaching a height of over 100 feet. The Western White Pine grows mainly in areas where there is a reasonable amount of moisture, and is not as drought tolerant as many other species of pine. The Eastern White Pine on the other hand is a fairly rapid grower and is a landscaping favorite. It is somewhat smaller than the Western White Pine, usually growing to around 70 feet in height. Other species of white pine include the Sugar Pine and the Rocky Mountain White Pine.

The Big Guys - There are giants within the pine family, the largest being the Bull Pine. The aforementioned Sugar Pine is also a giant, attaining a height of 200 feet in many instances and possessing the largest cones, growing to around 20 inches in length. Two other giants, the Long Leaf Pine and Yellow Pine which grow on the east coast and down to the Gulf Coast, were the trees of choice for providing masts for tall ships.

The Long-Lived Bristlecone Pine - Not all types of pine trees are tall enough for ship's masts. Some species are rally rather short. The most famous of the "shorties" is probably the Bristlecone Pine, better known for its longevity than for its size. Bristlecone pines in the Sierra Nevada Range are protected, as many of the trees are among the oldest living things on earth, the oldest thought to be well over 4,000 years old. Bristlecone pines sold commercially often find their place in a rock garden, and are also a favorite of bonsai enthusiasts. The Bristlecone is one of the more drought tolerant tress you are likely to come across. The name "Survivor" would serve it well.

The Versatile Jack Pine - The Bristlecone Pine seldom exceeds a height of more than 20 feet. The Jack Pine isn't much larger. The Jack Pine is more of a scrub pine, not terribly attractive, having an irregular growth pattern, but is very useful in the role of conservation planting. If nothing else, the Jack Pine may be one of the more versatile pine trees, an excellent source of fuel as well as fence posts, and in the past has been widely used as a tree of choice for railroad ties.

Two Favorites - The Ponderosa Pine may be the best known of the types of pine trees, and is certainly one of the more popular types. Paradoxically, though a favorite of many, it is not a particularly good landscaping tree. The best landscaping pine may be the Scotch Pine. While not a native to North America, it is used throughout the United States and Canada for landscaping purposes, and is the choice of many as a Christmas tree.

The Pinyon - There are more, including the well known Norway Pine, the Spruce Pine, the Black Pine and the Mexican Pine. No list would be complete however without mention of the Pinyon. The Pinyon is familiar to readers of Western novels, who may assume it is simply Spanish for pine tree, rather than being a distinct species of pine. The Pinyon is a small to medium sized pine growing mostly in arid regions of the west. The nuts are edible, and are not only a favorite of birds and rodents, but are considered a delicacy by many residents of the American Southwest.

Pine trees are useful in building tepees (Lodgepole Pine), as well as providing the raw material for railroad ties, ship masts, and fine furniture. Some pines are great for landscaping or bonsai, others for erosion control. And at least one type, the Bristlecone, is both a tourist attraction and a national treasure.


 

 


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