Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Western White Pine - Pinus monticola

"Pinus monticola is an evergreen Tree growing to 60 m (196ft 10in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in leaf 12-Jan, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure." [PFAF]


"General: Tree to 50 m tall, sometimes taller; bark thin, grey and smooth when young, developing into small, squarish scales, greyish where flakes exposed, cinnamon brown underneath; young twigs puberulent." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Leaves: Needles in fives, (3) 5-10 cm long; light blue-green." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Cones: Seed cones pendant at ends of upper branches, yellow-green to purple when young, turning yellowish-brown, 15-25 cm long when mature; scales thin; pollen cones yellow, clustered." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range
"Moist to dry slopes in the lowland and montane zones; frequent in S BC; E to SW AB and S to CA, NV, ID, and MT." [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Native [E-flora]


Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"The pitch, like that of lodgepole pine, was used as a medicine for stomach aches, coughs, and sores (Cranmer, 1969; Johnson, 1969; Willey, 1969). The gum was chewed by women to give them fertility. It was thought to have the power to make girls pregnant, even without sexual intercourse (Boas, 1935)." [Turner&Bell2]


"Thrives in a light well-drained sandy or gravelly loam in a sunny position[1, 11]. Dislikes poorly drained moorland soils[1]. Established plants tolerate drought[200]. A fast growing tree, capable of sustaining growth of 75cm per year over a long period of time even when in an unfavourable site. This species establishes very well on severely altered sites such as after a forest fire[229]. Trees on a site 300m above sea level in N. Wales have grown exceptionally well[185]. Girth increases of up to 4cm a year have been recorded[185]. Trees take 30 - 40 years before they produce reliable crops of seeds[229]. Good crops are produced every 2 - 4 years in the wild, with little seed in the intervening years[229]. The cones are 12 - 27cm long and take 2 years to mature[82, 229], they open and shed their seed in late summer and early autumn whilst still attached to the tree[82, 226]. Very susceptible to 'white pine blister rust' this tree should not be planted near Ribes species (currants and gooseberries) because they can transmit the rust(1, 11, 120). Most of the older trees in this country have been killed by the rust. However, it seems that infection only occurs when the trees are young in this country and new plantings in areas isolated from species of Ribes are being made[185]. Plants are also subject to damage by aphis. Trees have a thin bark, which makes them susceptible to forest fires[226]. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly[200]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus[200]. Leaf secretions inhibit the germination of seeds, thereby reducing the amount of plants that can grow beneath the tree[18]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]."[PFAF]

"in order to compete for growing space, western white pine requires occasional disturbances, notably fire. Historically, white pine benefited from its ability to survive understory fires that burned along the ground at low intensity and killed many of the fire-sensitive firs and hemlocks. Stand-replacement fires killed most trees but often favored western white pine because it regenerates well in burned areas-sometimes from seeds surviving in green cones in tall trees. Western white pine commonly outgrows its competitors in the aftermath of fire, logging, or other disturbances." [nwtrees]

"Formation of traumatic resin ducts was also reported... for fungus-infected western white pine (Pinus monticola) (Hudgins et al. 2005). It was shown that wounding and fungal infection lead to the formation of traumatic resin ducts in spruce and pine, not only at the site of infection but to some degree also in distant tissues.... Traumatic resin ducts contribute to increased resin production and the newly formed resin can be different in chemical composition compared to constitutive resin (Martin et al. 2002; Faldt et al. 2003; Miller et al. 2005; Zulak et al. 2009)." [Matyssek GDP] "Like other ,- needle pines, it is susceptible to blister rust (transmitted via currant and gooseberry shruhs) hut being cuntrolled." [Western Trees] "lousewort (Pedicularis) and a paintbrush (Castilleja)-can also serve as alternate hosts for blister rust.... rust spores can be carried many
miles downwind in moist air masses." [nwtrees]

Wildlife: "Seeds consumed hy squirrels and chipmunks." [Western Trees]

Predation: Pine Louse Gall - "Spruces are the primary host. No galls are formed on the secondary host, mountain white pine, but the needles and stems of pines are often heavily damaged by the insect." [Larew PNW]


"It is best to sow the seed in individual pots in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if this is possible otherwise in late winter. A short stratification of 6 weeks at 4oc can improve the germination of stored seed[80]. Plant seedlings out into their permanent positions as soon as possible and protect them for their first winter or two[11]. Plants have a very sparse root system and the sooner they are planted into their permanent positions the better they will grow[K]. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm[200]. We actually plant them out when they are about 5 - 10cm tall. So long as they are given a very good weed-excluding mulch they establish very well[K]. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance[200]. Cuttings. This method only works when taken from very young trees less than 10 years old. Use single leaf fascicles with the base of the short shoot. Disbudding the shoots some weeks before taking the cuttings can help. Cuttings are normally slow to grow away[81]."[PFAF]

Requires 48h seed soak with water change every 24hours. "Warm/cold stratification: seeds are soaked, drained and kept at 20–25oC for 4 weeks, then stratified for 8 weeks at 2–5oC." [Leadem FSSB]

Fungal Associations:

Alleleopathic: "The needles contain a substance called terpene, this is released when rain washes over the needles and it has a negative effect on the germination of some plants, including wheat[201]." [PFAF]


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