pine at Lookout Mountain
Bundles of 5,
Cones: 2-3" long, closed when
Bark: Light gray, scaly
Where: At the timberline
Whitebark Pine has 5 needles per bundle, like Western
White Pine, but Western White Pine needles are longer and thinner,
and have a bluish color.
only 2 to 3 inches
long. They are purple, turning brown as they mature. The cones remain
on the tree and do not open when they dry. But birds, most notably
Clark's Nutcracker, easily pull apart the cones to get the seeds, so
only cone fragments are
found on the ground.
The bark is
gray, and the twigs are flexible like
rope. On larger trees it becomes scaly.
Where it grows: Whitebark
pine grows near the timberline in the
Cascades, often along windy ridges.
Elsewhere in Oregon, it grows in the mountains near Baker City. It also
grows throughout the Rocky Mountains.
Similar tree: Limber
Pine is a similar 5-needle pine,
common in the Rocky Mountains. It
grows in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon. Limber Pine cones
larger 3-7 inches. If you find large, whole cones on the ground, they
are Limber Pine cones.
produces the largest seeds of all the conifers of the Northwest.
These seeds, often called "pine nuts," are edible. They are a vital
food source for Clark's Nutcrackers, which in turn
are vital to seed dispersal for Whitebark Pine. Nutcrackers cache
the seeds in the ground, and some of the seeds sprout there. The two
are so dependant on one another, if you see one of them the other is
likely to be close by.
The common and
scientific names describe the Whitebark Pine. Albicaulis
stemmed." To remember the name, think of it as the "Albino-bark Pine."
Other common names: Pitch Pine, Scrub Pine, and Creeping Pine. John
Muir called it "Dwarf Pine."