|Young Western White Pine|
Western White Pine was identified on Mt. St. Helens by David Douglas, and named it for the light colour of its wood. White Pines grows from the interior of northern California through southern British Columbia, and to the coast in Washington and BC. It’s a soft pine that grows tall and straight to 40 metres and up to 2 metres in diameter. The horizontal branches form a dense crown creating a pyramid-like shape.
The long supple blue-green needles come in bundles of 5. Pollen cones are small and yellow at the tips of new growth. The seed cones are 25 centimetres long, brown, and woody when mature.
First Nations peoples used a tea made from the bark and pitch for medicinal purposes. The bark was also used in baskets and canoe building. Western White Pine is not widespread in Coastal BC because a fungus introduced with nursery stock in 1910 in Vancouver quickly spread, killing young trees.
It was such a surprise to see so many young pines flourishing unexpectedly. Because there are few mature trees in our forests, they are not commonly sought for commercial harvesting.
References: Plants of Coastal British Columbia by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon (Lone Pine Publishing, 1994) and A Guide to Field Identification: Trees of North America (Golden Press, 1986) by C. Frank Brockman.