One of the best parts about life in New England is getting to enjoy the bountiful local flora and fauna. Every time you step outside, you’ll be left stunned at the blooming trees and chirping birds that make these trees their home. Today, we’ll learn more about the pine population of New England, and the many types that you can find.
New England is a truly unique stretch of land, with diverse climates spread out across the 50-miles spanning from Southern Connecticut and going all the way to Northern Maine. While extreme Southern New England is quite warm and sunny, the Northern areas are quite the opposite. Maine, New Massachusetts, and Vermont see humid, continental climates, but the other regions have long, cold winters with heavy snow. This often makes New England the perfect place to find snow-capped pine trees that look like they’re from a Christmas movie.
Speaking of pine trees, you will find quite a stunning variety in New England. From the huge Eastern White Pine to Jack Pines and even Pitch Pines, New England has them all. Even with its smaller size, the state of Massachusetts still has more than 3.2 million hectares of forestry, covered with pines, oak trees, and beech trees. This is due to the region’s weather conditions, which see around 45 inches of rain and 90 inches of snow each year. Additionally, the frost-free growing season in the Southern Maine coast lasts for over 140 days, giving our evergreen conifers plenty of time to bloom.
Today, we will learn more about the many different types of pine trees in New England and the distinguishing features that set them apart.
1. White Pine (Pinus strobus)
The White Pine tree is quite easy to identify with its needles occurring in bunches of five. The needles are a beautiful blue-green shade and measure around 10 to 12 cm. Its cones are gradually tapering in shape and have scales without any prickles. Under good soil and weather conditions, the White Pine easily grows up to 30 meters in height, with a relatively fast growth rate that declines with age.
2. Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana)
The Jack Pine is another fast-growing evergreen conifer that sheds needles each year to make room for new ones. In its first eight years of life, the Jack Pine acquires a height of just one meter, but eventually reaches up to 20 meters over the years under favorable soil conditions. These trees have sharp, stiff needles in pairs of two and 5 cm long cones with curved tips.
3. Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)
Red Pine trees are monoecious gymnosperms with male and female cones occurring on different branches of the same tree. These trees grow over 30 to 35 meters in height, with a tall, straight trunk that opens in a rounded crown. In its first four years, the red pine only grows about 25 cm, but the growth rate increases for the next 10 – 20 years, reaching over 60 cm per annum.
4. Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida mill.)
The Pitch Pine is another coniferous evergreen, distinguished due to its tall, straight, and even growth. These trees grow slowly, taking over 30 years to reach maturity. However, their growth is constant for up to 90 years, allowing them to grow to 30 meters. The Pitch Pine has a conical crown with dark green needles arranged in bundles of three. Their dark brown cones take two years to mature and are found in serotinous and non-serotinous varieties.
5. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus L.)
The Eastern White Pine is native to the lands of the northeastern United States. Also called the Weymouth Pine and White Pine, these evergreen conifers are found all across New England. They grow rapidly and are long-lived, reaching heights of over 63 meters and living for about 200 years. The Eastern White Pine has cylindrical cones and lush green needles around 12 cm long. The evergreen foliage of these monoecious trees makes them a true sight to behold.