White pine (Pinus strobus) grows rather quickly to a mature height anywhere from 90-to-200 feet with a rounded canopy of branches and needles that can become irregular or flat-topped with age. The gray-green needles are typically borne in clusters of five. The female cones ripen to brown and are 3-to-6 inches long, festooning the branch tips across fall and winter months. It grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9, where winter low temperatures range from 25 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
White pine is native to southeastern-most Canada and cool humid regions of the eastern United States. In Canada it is naturally found in the provinces of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. In the U.S., it occurs widespread or in isolated pockets in all states east of Minnesota, Iowa, Illnois, Kentucky and Georgia except Florida.
According to the Gymnosperm Database, the oldest known log was found at Swan Lake, Ontario, had 407 rings and is believed to have actively grown from 1432 to1838. In 1982 a living tree in Wilmington Notch, New York, was cored and revealed 350 rings.
In the 18th century, huge stands of white pine forest were reserved exclusively for use by the British Royal Navy, according to the Gymnosperm Database. Fittingly, the tree trunks were prized to use for ship masts, particularly from 1652 to 1775. White pine has been used for furniture and large-frame buildings in the northern United States and Canada since that time. Today, white pine is an ornamental tree used for shade, windbreaks and hedgerows and to supply boughs for Christmas garland roping as well as small cut Christmas trees. The bark is used as an astringent, and the wood yields white pine tar.
White pine is the official provincial tree of Ontario and vies as the state tree of both Maine and Michigan.
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