Needles: Western White Pine has 5 needles per bundle. In northwest Oregon and western Washington, you can identify it by counting the needles and noting the elevation. Whitebark Pine also has 5 needles per bundle, but usually grows at higher elevations near the timberline.
Cones: Western White Pine cones are usually 7 or 8 inches long with a distinctive curve like a banana. The scales often have a white, sticky resin on them.
Bark: The bark is gray and breaks into rectangular plates on large trees.
Where it grows: Western White Pine grows throughout the Cascades and in the Coast Range at elevations of 3000 to 5000 feet in Oregon and down to sea level in northwest Washington. It also grows in northeast corners of Oregon and Washington, and in northern Idaho. It is the state tree of Idaho. In California, it grows in the Siskiyous and Sierras.
Uses: Although not a major timber tree, Western White Pine has uses similar to Ponderosa Pine. It's also used to make wooden matches. The wood is light, attractive, and easy to work, making it ideal for wood carving.
Names: Western White Pine was first described and named by David Douglas. Monticola is Latin for "mountain dweller." Other common names: Idaho Pine and Mountain Pine.
© 2011 Ken Denniston