Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine) description


Bushes rising in a peat bathroom on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. P. contorta subsp. contorta is often present in bogs all through its vary [C.J. Earle, 1999.04].


Tree of subsp. murrayana on summit of Sonora Cross, California [C.J. Earle, 2008.06.29].


P. contorta normally enjoys a aggressive benefit on harsh websites. These timber of subsp. latifolia are rising within the Norris Geyser Basin at Yellowstone Natl. Park [C.J. Earle, 2007.07.22].


Lively pollen cones of a specimen of subspecies contorta rising native at Cape Disappointment State Park, Washington [C. J. Earle, 2013.05.11].


A typical seedling; that is of subsp. latifolia rising close to Mt. Adams, Washington [C.J. Earle, 2017.05.29].


A specimen of subspecies contorta rising native at Patrick’s Level, California [C.J. Earle, 1999.05].


Two 3-5 m tall timber of subspecies contorta rising as ornamentals inside their native vary in Seattle (USA) [C.J. Earle, 1999.03.19].


P. contorta subsp. latifolia is among the many most fire-adapted pines. This exhibits a burn mosaic above Mammoth, Wyoming, 1 12 months post-fire [C.J. Earle, 1989.07.02].


This exhibits the identical web site, 30 years post-fire. Areas with probably the most extreme burn (black within the 1989 photograph) have sparse regeneration; areas with much less extreme burn (brown in 1989 photograph) present a closed-canopy forest of lodgepole pine regeneration [C.J. Earle, 2018.05.28].


Though P. contorta just isn’t usually regarded as a topic for high quality woodworking, it’s the popular species for log cabins. Probably the most noteworthy instance is the Outdated Trustworthy Inn, inbuilt 1904 in Yellowstone Nationwide Park; the foyer is proven right here. Initially the whole constructing was constructed of P. contorta with Pseudotsuga menziesii flooring; the principle foyer ground has since been changed with the extra sturdy Acer saccharum seen right here [C.J. Earle, 2018.05.31].

off-site photos


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Conservation status

Pinus contorta

Douglas ex Loudon 1838

Frequent names

Lodgepole pine (Burns and Honkala 1990); seashore, western scrub, north coast scrub, sand, shore or knotty pine (Peattie 1950).

Taxonomic notes

Three subspecies: subsp. contorta, subsp. latifolia (Engelm.) Critchfield, and subsp. murrayana (Balfour) Engelmann. These taxa are generally handled on the rank of selection (Kral 1993), however virtually all researchers actively concerned with research into the species recognise them at subspecific rank, observing the substantial genetic and adaptational variations between them (Critchfield 1957; Wheeler and Guries 1982a, 1982b; Wheeler and Critchfield 1985; von Rudloff and Lapp 1987; Aitken and Libby 1994).

A fourth taxon, the Mendocino Sands shore pine, has additionally been recognised as a subspecies by a few of these authors, as subsp. bolanderi (Parlatore) Critchfield, however different research (Wheeler and Critchfield 1985, Aitken and Libby 1994) have proven that that is much less distinct from subsp. contorta “The 2 subspecies [contorta, bolanderi] didn’t present the phylogenetic dichotomy in allozyme allelic constitutions anticipated for subspecific classification” (Aitken and Libby 1994), and it’s recognised right here as a range inside subsp. contorta, var. bolanderi (Parlatore) Koehne. Those that deal with the principle subspecies at varietal rank deal with bolanderi as a synonym of contorta (Kral 1993).

Subsp. latifolia hybridizes with Pinus banksiana in elements of western Alberta and in northeastern British Columbia. Wooden (2006) discovered hybrids to be frequent within the space round Fort Nelson, BC; the hybrids all confirmed P. contorta maternity and P. banksiana paternity, with bodily variations in characters together with needle width/size, cone angle of attachment, cone curvature, and cone size. Extra geographically in depth sampling of the hybrid zone has revealed that P. contorta and the hybrids develop at constantly larger elevations than the P. banksiana mother and father (Rweyongeza et al. 2007). There may be additionally genetic proof that subsp. latifolia is separable into two populations, a southern one within the Rocky Mts south of the Pleistocene ice, and a northern one (together with the hybrid populations) that suvived in ice-free areas (nunataks and bigger areas too dry for icefield formation) north of the principle ice entrance (Wheeler and Guries 1982b, Wheeler and Critchfield 1985); these may probably be distinct at varietal rank however no identify has been given to the northern inhabitants.


Tree: Shrub or tree to 50 m tall and 90 cm dbh, straight to contorted, with crown various in accordance with genetic race; decrease branches usually descending, the higher spreading or ascending. Bark: Brown to gray- or red-brown, platy to furrowed, variable in thickness each between and inside populations. Twigs: Slender, multinodal, tough, orange to red-brown, growing older darker brown. Leaves: Yellow-green to darkish inexperienced, 2 per fascicle, spreading or ascending, persisting 3-Eight years, 2-Eight cm × 0.7-2(-3) mm, twisted, all surfaces with high quality stomatal strains, margins finely serrulate, apex blunt to acute or narrowly acuminate; sheath 0.3-0.6(-1) cm, persistent. Buds narrowly to broadly ovoid, darkish red-brown, to 1.2 cm, barely resinous. Pollen cones: Ellipsoid to cylindric, 5-15 mm lengthy, orange-red. Seed cones: Variably uneven, lanceoloid to ovoid earlier than opening, broadly ovoid to globose when open, (2-)3-6(-7.5) cm lengthy, tan to pale red-brown, lustrous, practically sessile or on a peduncle to 2-Three mm lengthy, maturing in 16-20 months, variably serotinous, variably persistent. Cone scales: Apophyses practically rhombic, variously elongate, cross-keeled, usually mammillate towards outer cone base and on inside above center; umbo central, depressed-triangular, prickle barely elongate to stubby or slender and to six mm. Seeds: Compressed, obovoid; physique ca. 5 mm, black (infertile seeds usually mottled pale to red-brown), wing 10-14 mm. 2n=24 (Critchfield 1957, Kral 1993).

The subspecies of Pinus contorta can recognized in accordance with the important thing proven under (from Kral 1993). Bushes close to the boundaries between subspecies will usually present intermediate traits.


Leaves 2-7 cm × 0.7-0.9(-1.1) mm, darkish inexperienced; mature trunk with bark evidently furrowed; seed cones strongly uneven, strongly recurved, persistent or variously serotinous.

var. contorta


Leaves (4-)5-Eight cm × (0.7-)1-2(-3) mm, yellow-green; mature trunk with bark not evidently furrowed; seed cones uneven to almost symmetric, recurved to spreading, variously serotinous or quickly shed.



Seed cones uneven, recurved, variously serotinous, long-persistent; mid and decrease apophyses largely a lot domed; major branches largely horizontally spreading, not ascending at tip.

var. latifolia


Seed cones practically symmetric, largely spreading, not serotinous, not persistent; mid and decrease apophyses largely shallowly domed; major branches ascending at suggestions.

var. murrayana

Pinus contorta might be distinguished from its close to relative P. banksiana by its seed cones, that are curved ahead on branches, unarmed or with small reflexed apiculi. In P. banksiana the seed cones are spreading to recurved on branches, largely armed with prickles (Kral 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

W USA, W Canada, Mexico: Baja California Norte, at 0-3500 (-3900) m (Critchfield 1957, Wheeler and Guries 1982). Hardy to Zone 7 (chilly hardiness restrict between -17.7°C and -12.2°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001) (I think this refers to subsp. contorta). See additionally Thompson et al. (1999).

The map under exhibits subsp. contorta in crimson, latifolia in inexperienced, and murrayana in blue. The boundaries are usually not as clear as proven right here; specifically, subsp. latifolia is discovered on fire-prone websites inside the mapped distribution of subsp. contorta, e.g. at Deer Park within the northeastern Olympic Mountains; subsp. contorta happens at some fire-resistant websites (reminiscent of bogs) east of the Cascade crest; and the boundary between these and subsp. murrayana is gradational.

Distribution information from USGS (1999).

Pinus contorta is fireplace successional over most of its vary and is characterised by prolific seeding and excessive seed viability in disturbed habitats, usually leading to extraordinarily slow-growing, overly dense stands” (Kral 1993). See the subspecies descriptions for extra detailed info.

Massive tree

See subsp. murrayana.


See subsp. murrayana.


See the varied subspecies descriptions.


See the varied subspecies descriptions. Lodgepole pine (subspecies not specified, however I think latifolia) is among the most generally planted timber timber in Iceland (Icelandic Forest Service 2017).


See the varied subspecies descriptions.


It has turn into naturalised in some areas together with New Zealand, and extra regionally in Britain; in New Zealand this has turn into a significant issue adversely affecting native vegetation (papers in Richardson 1998).

Though contradictory, each the Latin and customary names precisely describe the species: members of subsp. contorta, first noticed rising close to the Pacific Ocean (the place David Douglas collected and described the species), are intricately contorted by the results of wind and salt spray; whereas timber of subsp. latifolia, the most common tree in Wyoming and far of the rest of the Rocky Mountains, develop tall and slender, making them preferrred materials for the lodge-poles of Plains Indian tipis.


Aitken, S.N. and W.J. Libby. 1994. Evolution of the pygmy-forest edaphic subspecies of Pinus contorta throughout an ecological staircase. Evolution 48: 1009-1019.

Critchfield, W.B. 1957. Geographic variation in Pinus contorta. Maria Moors Cabot Basis (Harvard) Publ. 3.

Icelandic Forest Service. 2017. Forestry in a treeless land., accessed 2017.11.01, now defunct.

Loudon, J.C. 1838. Arboretum et Fruticetum Britannicum 4: 2292, figs. 2210, 2211.

Rweyongeza, D.M., Dhir, N.Ok., Barnhardt, L.Ok., Hansen, C. and Yang, R.C. 2007. Inhabitants differentiation of the lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and jack pine (Pinus banksiana) advanced in Alberta: progress, survival, and responses to local weather. Canadian Journal of Botany 85(6):545-556.

von Rudloff, E. and M.S. Lapp. 1987. Chemosystematic research within the genus Pinus. VI. Normal survey of the leaf oil terpene composition of lodgepole pine. Canadian Journal of Forest Analysis 17: 1013-1025.

Wheeler, N.C. and W.B. Critchfield. 1985. The distribution and botanical traits of lodgepole pine: biogeographical and administration implications. Pp. 1-13 in D.M. Baumgartner (ed.). Lodgepole pine: the species and its administration. Pullman, WA: Washington State College.

Wheeler, N.C. and R.P. Guries. 1982a. Inhabitants construction, genic range, and morphological variation in Pinus contorta Dougl. Canadian Journal of Forest Analysis 12: 595-606.

Wheeler, N.C. and R.P. Guries. 1982b. Biogeography of lodgepole pine. Canadian Journal of Botany 60: 1805-1814.

Wooden, Lisa. 2006. An investigation of pure hybridization between jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) in northern British Columbia. M.S. Thesis, College of Northern British Columbia.

See additionally

Elwes and Henry 1906-1913 on the Biodiversity Heritage Library. This collection of volumes, privately printed, supplies a number of the most participating descriptions of conifers ever printed. Though they solely deal with species cultivated within the U.Ok. and Eire, and the taxonomy is a bit dated, nonetheless these accounts are thorough, treating such matters as species description, vary, varieties, exceptionally previous or tall specimens, exceptional timber, and cultivation. Regardless of being over a century previous, they’re usually correct, and are illustrated with some exceptional pictures and lithographs.

FEIS database.

Lanner (1983).

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