Eastern White Pine

Pinus strobus

Eastern White Pine

The mighty Eastern white pine was at one time the tallest conifer in the northeastern United States, with specimens often towering over 150 feet above the forest floor. Straight, tall trees like the white pine and tulip tree had long since been harvested into near-extinction in Europe, and such trees were a welcome sight for shipbuilders seeking masts for sailing ships. Eastern white pine is at the end of its southern range in western North Carolina, and today’s white pine averages 80-100 feet in height.

White pines had a myriad of uses for Native Americans, pioneers, and industry. The Cherokee used white pine for lumber, and the soft wood was perfect for carving into household goods and canoes. It was also used medicinally, with the pitch used in poultices and the bark and needles used in teas. The inner bark was used in cough syrups. Until the mid-1900s, eastern white pine was the most valuable commercially logged tree in the eastern United States, with its lightweight straight-grained wood sent to sawmills to be turned into lumber and millwork, pulp sent to paper factories, and its resin used for tar. Eastern white pine seeds are eaten by black bears, rabbits, and squirrels. Its bark is eaten by beavers, porcupines, rabbits, and mice. Mature trees provide shelter for birds and small mammals.

Sponsor: Kathy Johnson, in honor of Jacob Zimmerman

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