Tree west of
Ellery Lake on Tioga
Photo by Charles Brock
This high-elevation tree of the Rocky Mountains is
rare in the Pacific Northwest. It can grow straight to a height of 60
feet (18 meters), but is often shorter and contorted.
has 5 needles per bundle, like Whitebark
distinguish limber pine from whitebark pine by their cones. Limber pine
larger, 3 to 7 inches
long. They are green, turning brown as they mature, while immature
Pine cones are purple. Limber pine cones open to disperse their seeds
fall to the ground intact, so you usually find cones underneath limber
pine, but almost never under whitebark pine. Whitebark pine cones
remain closed on the tree until they are pulled apart by birds
harvesting the seeds.
The bark is
gray, and the twigs are flexible like
rope. On larger trees, it becomes brown with long scaly plates and
it grows: Common
in the Rocky Mountains, limber pine is rare in Oregon, growing only in
the high elevations of the Wallowa Mountains.
Like whitebark pine, limber pine
produces large seeds, often called "pine nuts." They are a
source for both birds and rodents.
and scientific names refer to the flexible twigs. Other common names:
Rocky Mountain pine, white pine, limbertwig.