Northwest Conifers


Pines – Pinus

Although pines are the most common conifer throughout the world, they don't compete as well in the climate of the Northwest, where forests are dark, damp, and dense. You will find them high in the mountains in more open forests and east of the Cascades where the weather is dry. Pines have long needles that grow in bundles. You can usually identify a pine by the number of needles in each bundle. The cones are the largest you will find in the Northwest. Unlike the thin scales on hemlock and spruce cones, pine cones have thick, woody scales. Pinus, of course, means "pine tree." Four species of pine grow throughout the mountains of the Northwest.

Ponderosa Pine Ponderosa Pine
– Pinus ponderosa

Needles: Bundles of 3, 5-10" long

Cones: 3-6" long, egg shaped

Bark: Orange puzzle pieces

Where: Rare west of the Cascades. Common east of the Cascades to 5000 ft.


Lodgepole PineLodgepole Pine – Pinus contorta

Needles: Bundles of 2, 1-3" long

Cones: 2" long, egg shaped

Bark: Dark gray, scaly

Where: Along the coast and above 3000 ft. in the mountains


Western White PineWestern White Pine
 – Pinus monticola

Needles: Bundles of 5, 2-4" long

Cones: 6-10" long, curved

Bark: Dark gray scaly plates

Where: 2000-5000 ft.


Whitebark PineWhitebark Pine
 – Pinus albicaulis

Needles: Bundles of 5, 1-3" long

Cones: 2-3" long, closed when mature

Bark: Light gray, scaly

Where: At the timberline


These pines grow in southwest Oregon.

Jeffrey PineJeffrey Pine
 – Pinus jeffreyi

Needles: Bundles of 3, 5-10" long

Cones: 6-10" long, egg shaped

Bark: Brown puzzle pieces

Where: Mountains of southwest Oregon


Knobcone PineKnobcone Pine
 – Pinus attenuata

Needles:  Bundles of 3, 3-6" long

Cones: Clusters, closed, woody, 3-6" long

Bark: Gray, scaly

Where: Mountains of southwest Oregon


Sugar PineSugar Pine
 – Pinus lambertiana

Needles: Bundles of 5, 2-4" long

Cones: Large, 10-20" long

Bark: Gray-brown with furrows

Where: Above 1000 ft. south of the 45th parallel


Gray PineGray Pine
 – Pinus sabiniana

Needles: Gray-green, bundles of 3, 6-12" long

Cones: Egg shaped, 6-10" long

Bark: Dark brown with furrows

Where: Below 4000 ft.


This pine grows in the northeast corner Oregon.

Western JuniperLimber Pine
 – Pinus flexilis

Needles: Bundles of 5, 2-3" long

Cones: 3-7" long, open when mature

Bark: Light gray, becoming brown and furrowed

Where: Wallowa Mountains


© 2012, 2016 Ken Denniston