- Pinus, from the Greek, pitus
(pitys), "pine or fir tree"
- resinosa, from the Latin, "very resinous"
- Common Name from color of bark.
- Other common names include Norway Pine, pin rouge, pin à
résine, pin résineux, pin de Norvège (Qué)
- Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
- Division Coniferophyta, the Conifers
- Class Pinopsida
- Order Pinales
- Family Pinaceae, the Pines, Spruce, and Firs
- Taxonomic Serial Number: 183375
- Little genetic variation; one of the most homogeneous pine species
- Bark light red-brown, furrowed and cross-checked
into irregularly rectangular, scaly plates.
- Needles evergreen, in clusters of 2, slender, 4"-6"
long, dark green, borne in dense tufts at the ends of the branchlets;
snap easily when bent double.
- Cones, about 2" long, without prickles, nearly stalkless,
remain attached until the following year.
- Branches: One horizontal whorl develops each year.
- In closed stands, has a straight, limbless trunk for almost 3/4 length
and an oval crown. In open stands, branches are retained for almost
the full length of the tree and are horizontally spreading or somewhat
- Height of 70'-80' on good sites, reaching almost
- Age to almost 400 years.
- Roots very windfirm. Seedlings develop 6"-18" taproots
in the first growing season. Older trees develop a widespreading and
moderately deep root system. If unhindered by competition, the longest
lateral roots may extend 40' beyond the crown. Vertical roots may penetrate
- One of three native pines.
- Distinguished from White Pine (Pinus
strobus) by having needles in clusters of two.
- Distinguished from Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana)
by its longer needles and larger cones.
- Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; New Brunswick;
southern Quebec; and Maine to central Ontario and southeast Manitoba;
south to southeast Minnesota; and east to Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania,
and the New England States.
- Occurs on outwash plains, level or gently rolling
sand plains, and low ridges adjacent to lakes and swamps; also mountain
slopes and hilltops. Often grows on very exposed sites including islands,
peninsulas, east shores of lakes, and steep slopes. It withstands dehydrating
winter winds better than its tree associates
- Soils dry sandy, acidic, infertile, but can grow
in all types of soils, provided they are well drained. Grows especially
well in naturally subirrigated soils (watertable 4'-9' below the surface)
with well-aerated surface layers.
- Shade intolerant. Rates 2.4 in tolerance on a scale
of 0-10, compared with aspens at 0.7 and Eastern Hemlock at 10. Of its
associates, only Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana),
Aspens (Populus spp), and Paper Birch (Betula
papyrifera), are less shade tolerant. Red Pine succeeds these
shorter lived, less tolerant species and is, in turn, succeeded by more
shade-tolerant trees including White Pine (Pinus
strobus), White Spruce (Picea
glauca), and Balsam Fir (Abies
- On coarse, infertile sands, may be a long-persisting subclimax species.
Natural stands are very open, and Red Pine reproduces in some of these
parklike stands. In extremely windswept areas may persist indefinitely
because few other species can survive on these sites
- Often codominant with White Pine (Pinus
strobus) or Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana).
- Fire in the boreal forest at the northern edge of native range is
characterized by crown fires and high-severity surface fires. Red Pine
is resticted to lake landscapes or rough topography at its northern
limits because these natural fire breaks permit some mature trees to
- The typical fuel supply under Red Pine stands is an organic layer
2"-4" deep, a continuous needle layer, a moderate herb and shrub layer,
and a moderately dense understory. Ground fires spread slowly. Dry windy
conditions are required for fires to crown and have a high rate of spread.
- Red Pine litter is less compact and less dense than Jack Pine litter
because of its long and curved needles. Thus, the drying rate and potential
combustion rate is higher than that of Jack Pine.
- Fire resistant. Mature trees survive fire because
they have thick bark, branch-free trunks, a moderately deep rooting
habit, and often occur in moderately open stands.
- Fire is necessary for regeneration because it prepares a seedbed,
opens up the canopy by killing some trees, and reduces brush and understory
species which shade out and compete with seedlings
- The natural fire regime in Red Pine forests
is one of alternating stand replacing fires and nonlethal fires. Low
and moderate severity fires occur at 20-40 year intervals, and high-severity
fires at 150-200 years. Most moderate-severity fires do not kill canopy
trees. The high-severity fires kill trees and create openings in the
stand, ideal for regeneration.
- Complete absence of fire will eventually eliminate Red Pine, as will
frequent, stand-replacing fires.
- Trees: Most tree associates, excepting Jack Pine,
White Pine, and Aspen, grow as understory.
- On coarse, dry soils: Quaking Aspen (Populus
tremuloides), Bigtooth Aspen (Populus
- On fine to loamy sands: Oaks (Quercus spp.), Black Cherry
(Prunus serotina), and Black Spruce (Picea
- On sandy loam to loam: Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum),
Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis), American Beech (Fagus
grandifolia), White Ash (Fraxinus americana), White
Spruce (Picea glauca), White
Cedar (Thuja occidentalis),
American Basswood (Tilia americana), Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga
- Shrubs: Many understory shrub associates of red pine
are shade intolerant but can persist in open red pine stands: Juneberries
uva-ursi), New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus
americanus), Sweetfern (Comptonia
peregrina), Bunchberry (Cornus
canadensis), American Hazel (Corylus
americana), Beaked Hazel (Corylus
cornuta), Low Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla
lonicera), Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens), Twinflower
(Linnaea borealis), Fly
Honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), Sand Cherry (Prunus
pumila), Raspberries (Rubus spp.), Prairie Willow (Salix
humilis), Spireas (Spirea spp.), Blueberries (Vaccinium
angustifolium, Vaccinium myrtilloides)
- Herbs: Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia
nudicaulis), Large Leaf Aster (Aster
macrophyllus), Blue Bead Lily (Clintonia
borealis), Mocasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule),Greater
Rattlesnake Orchid (Goodyera tesselata), Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum
canadense), Cow Wheat (Melampyrum
linare), Bracken Fern (Pteridium
aquilinum), Rose Twisted Stalk (Streptopus
roseus), Starflower (Trientalis
- Ground Covers: Dicranum Mosses (Dicranum
spp.), Clubmosses (Lycopodium spp.), Schreber's Feathermoss
Hair Cap Moss (Polystrichum commune)
- Mammals: Stands provide cover, nesting sites, and
food for many species of birds and mammals. If preferred food is lacking,
white-tailed deer, snowshoe hares, and cottontails will browse seedlings.
Moose show moderate preference for Red Pine browse in the winter when
other browse is dormant. Mice and chipmunks feed on the seeds.
- Birds: Bald eagles typically build nests below the
top of the crown in living Red Pine. Songbirds feed on the seeds.
- Was forced south during the last Ice Age, where it became a part of
the Jack Pine forest which covered much of the southeastern states,
from the Mississippi Valley out onto the Continental Shelf.
- Began leaving the southeast, along with Jack Pine (Pinus
banksiana), about 15,000 years ago, arriving in Minnesota about
10,700 years ago, where it infiltrated the southern edge of the White
Spruce forest, itself moving northward, following the receding ice sheets.
- Wood moderately hard and straight grained. Used primarily for structural
timber and pulpwood; also suitable for poles, piling, mining timbers,
and railroad ties because it is easily penetrated by preservatives.
- Once the most important timber pine in the Great Lakes region
- "Norway Pine" is the state
tree of Minnesota
- Reproduces by seed
- Minimum seed-bearing age in open stands is 15-25 years and in closed
stands 50-60. Seed production best in trees 50-150 years of age. Large
seed crops once every 3-7 years with light crops in intervening years.
- Winged seeds are lightweight and disseminated by wind. Effective dispersal
range averages 40 ' from the source tree, but seeds may be carried up
to 900 '.
- Seedlings establish on mineral soil exposed by fire. (Seeds may germinate,
but seedlings do not establish beneath dense brush, on heavy litter
or sod, or on a recent burn with a heavy cover of ash.) Best conditions
are a fine sand seedbed, thin moss or litter, partial shade, abundant
precipitation, and a water table within 4 ' of the soil surface.
- Seedling establishment is satisfactory in 35% full sunlight but is
uncertain in levels of light less than 17%. Seedling height growth increases
with increasing light.
- After one growing season, seedling height is often less than 1 "and
growth continues to be slow for 4-5 years. Usually takes 4-10 years
to reach 4.5 '. Thereafter, height growth may average 1' per year.
- Cones develop over two growing seasons. After development
begins in midsummer, cones become dormant until the following spring.
Pollination occurs in late May or early June, and cones continue to
grow until late summer. Fertilization occurs the following summer, approximately
13 months after pollination. Cones ripen in early autumn and seeds are
dispersed in October and November. Germination occurs the following
spring or early summer.
- Because trees do not bear seed until 15-25 years of age at the earliest,
a fire-free interval of at least 20-40 years is required for regeneration.
- Fire provides conditions necessary for regeneration, specifically
a bare or lightly covered mineral seedbed free of brushy competition
and an open canopy. A thick organic layer is an unfavorable seedbed
because seedlings are farther from a constant water supply and the mineral
- Seeds require cold stratification to break dormancy.
- By seed, following cold stratification.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
- Cultural Requirements
- Full sun
- Well-drained, sandy loam soil, pH 4.5 - 6.5
- Medium to dry moisture
- Size 20'-40'W x 80'H
- Growth rate moderately rapid
- Very cold tolerant and withstands poor soils, but does not like salty
soils. It does well in breaks and grove plantings.
- On older trees the bark forms diamond-shaped, scaly plates and the
symmetrical, oval crown can climb to 100' tall.
- Cultivars and species available by mail order from specialty suppliers
or at local nurseries
Last updated on
4 March, 2006