Eastern White Pine is a distinctly unique conifer belonging to the ‘soft pines’ sub group of the Pinus genus. Historically, it has a huge range of native stands in 31 states and several Canadian provinces. This includes isolated native stands in Illinois such as White Pines State Park in Oregon, Illinois. The native habitats of Eastern White Pine in the natural landscape includes sites ranging from swamp edges to ridge tops, and everything in between. Endowed with such a diverse range of adaptation, Eastern White Pine is a very versatile evergreen for a large variety of planting sites. None the less, proper siting is very important for the best performance of white pine in the landscape.
Eastern White Pine is very sensitive to road salt and should not be exposed to it, especially aerially deposited salt. It should not be planted in chronically saturated clay soils, although it can perform well in poorly drained sites if planted high.
Eastern White Pine tolerates and competes well with turf grasses, being the best performing pine species in this environment. However, it should be given plenty of space as it will typically grow tall and wide. It responds well to being “limbed up” or raised. Any desired or needed clearance beneath the tree’s canopy should not be a problem. White Pine tolerates partial shade well, unlike most other pines. It performs well near and among other trees, especially deciduous species. This environment commonly occurs in its native habitat. However, when in such an environment, it is not satisfied to remain in the understory and will grow up through the crowns of adjacent trees, becoming an emergent “super canopy”. Needless to say, this characteristic gives Eastern White Pine a distinct noble appearance that makes a very aesthetic contribution to the landscape. These attributes along with inherently fast growth(up to 3 feet annually when established)make Eastern White Pine one of the most popular and widely planted trees in the United States and throughout the world.
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Harold Hoover, Board Certified Master Arborist