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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Eastern White Pine

Eastern White Pine

(Pinus strobus L.)


White pine grows naturally through the mountains, extending into the adjacent Piedmont region. It grows on high, dry, sandy and rocky ridges but does better on cool, moist, sandy loam soils. White pine reaches its best form in the Johns River area of Burke County.

Eastern white pine needles are soft bluish-green, flexible and 3 to 5 inches long. They grow in bundles of five and have 3 to 5 white lines (stomata) on two surfaces of each needle. Needles remain on the tree for two years.

Cones are fully grown in the summer of the second season, opening to discharge seeds during July and August.

Cones are 4 to 8 inches long, curved and stalked, with non-spiny scales.

The bark on young trunks and branches is thin, smooth, greenish and shiny. On old trunks, the bark is dark gray and is shallow-fissured, with broad and flat-topped longitudinal ridges.

The tree commonly reaches 100 feet in height and four feet in diameter. It has a tall, straight stem and a pyramidal crown. Branches are in definite annual whorls, sweeping upward in graceful curves. Each whorl represents one year's growth.

Eastern white pine is the largest conifer of eastern North America. It is long-lived and has been known to reach heights over 200 feet. Its wood is light, straight-grained and easily worked but is not strong. It is used in cabinetmaking, furniture, interior finishes, woodenware, matches and lumber. A large part of the winter diet of red squirrels (Boomers) in the southern Appalachians consists of the seed of eastern white pine.

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