White Pine, an evergreen conifer, is today widely distributed throughout eastern North America, including all of Ohio. It was originally confined to Appalachia, New England, and southern Canada at the time of European settlement, and occurred primarily in northeastern Ohio.
Today, it is logged for the production of lumber, creosote-soaked telephone poles, and as pulp for the production of paper. White Pine is commonly transplanted today as a landscape evergreen tree, and is also sold as a cut Christmas tree. Also known as Eastern White Pine, this towering evergreen easily grows to 80 feet tall by 40 feet wide or larger under optimum conditions, with a rapid growth rate. Its shape is upright pyramidal when young, but becomes irregular with maturity.
The very straight trunk of White Pine is punctuated by a whorl of lateral branches every one to two feet, and from this sequential arrangement, a close approximation of the age of the tree can be determined. Simply count the number of whorls from bottom to top. As a member of the Pine Family, it is related to other Pines as well as the Firs, Larches, Spruces, and Hemlocks.
Planting Requirements - White Pine performs best in evenly moist, rich, well-drained, acidic soils in full sun. It is often intolerant of soils that are alkaline in pH and poorly drained; therefore, the heavy clay soils of much of central and western Ohio cause it to struggle in parts of this region, while it often thrives in eastern Ohio. Needle chlorosis (yellowing) and stunted growth are prime symptoms of a soil-related problem. Its rapid growth rate allows for a quick result in terms of a harvestable timber tree, a mature landscape tree, or as a cut Christmas tree. It grows in zones 3 to 8.
Potential Problems - In spite of thriving in many natural settings, White Pine is very susceptible in urban settings to alkaline soil pH causing chlorosis, (resulting in yellowing of the needles and stunting of growth), winter salt spray, air pollution, compacted clay soils, and poor water drainage.
Young transplants and saplings are also subject to deer and rabbit browsing in any setting. White Pine suffers from white pine blister rust, a fungus that attacks the inner bark. This primary disease can be controlled by removing all gooseberry and alpine currant shrubs within a quarter mile of the tree, since they serve as alternate hosts. White Pine is also attacked by the white pine weevil, which bores into the terminal shoots and distorts the growth of the upper canopy. This primary pest may severely impact mass plantings, such as those that occur in pure forests stands, nursery plantations, and Christmas tree farms.