Many different types of long and short-needles pines are found in the rich, green forests in Ontario. If you’re looking for a way to be able to identify them on your next road trip, you’re at the right place! Today, we’ll learn all about the different types of pine trees in Ontario and their distinguishing features.
Known for their ability to stay green all year round and produce beautifully colored needles and cones, coniferous pine trees are truly a beauty to behold in Ontario. Although it is true that there are more deciduous trees than pine trees in Southern Ontario, this difference is made up for as you head up to the Northern Boreal Forest, where conifers lay supreme.
Some of the most abundant conifers in Ontario include spruce, cedar, fir, hemlock, and pine. Pine trees make up quite a large and impressive population in the Forests of Ontario, reaching high up to the skies with their skinny branches painted stunning shades of orange, grey, and brown. Among the pine population, the Eastern White Pine is the tallest with heights of more than 60 meters. This is also the provincial tree of Ontario and found scattered about the Thunder Bay campus.
Ontario’s weather conditions also allow for increased growth and proliferation of the pine population. This Canadian province has a humid continental climate, with different climatic regions. In general, Ontario experiences hot, humid summers followed by a cold winter. The main factor i.e., the precipitation rate also encourages pine growth. Ontario gets annual precipitation of around 750 to 1,000 mm, which is evenly distributed all year round.
Now that you know where to find pine trees in Ontario and the reason they grow so well, let’s learn about the different types of pine trees you will spot there.
1. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus L.)
The Eastern White Pine is one of the most recognizable pine trees in Ontario. This is due to their light and feathery needles that are found in bunches of 5. These needles are 10 – 15 cm long and light green in color. These trees grow exceptionally tall, often making the top-most layer of the forest by reaching heights of more than 65 meters. Ontario’s tallest Eastern White Pine is found in the town of Arnprior.
2. Red Pine (Pinus resinosa Aiton)
The Red Pine is another coniferous tree that is well-known for its height. These trees grow up to 35 meters and can be found in a variety of different habitats. With a growth rate of 30 to 60 cm, Red Pine trees grow rapidly during their first 20 years. The needles are arranged in twos and are quite brittle, easily breaking when wrapped around a finger. The Red Pine has low genetic variation, forming a forest of uniform trees.
3. Austrian Pine (Pinus mugo)
Also called the Bog Pine and the Dwarf Pine, the Austrian Pine gets its name due to its smaller size, only reaching about 15 to 18 meters high. It has dark green foliage with needles arranged in pairs of two and sized about 5 to 7 cm. The cones are nut-brown colored and quite symmetrical, with thin scaled dotting the entire structure. You will notice that the cones are quite glossy, causing them to stand out.
4. Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)
The Pitch Pine is a small-to-medium-sized tree that reaches heights of 30 meters. It is found in some areas of Southern Ontario, known as a pioneer species among oaks and other hardwoods. The Pitch Pine’s irregular shape and twisted branches make it quite easy to spot. It has needles arranged in bundles of three and about 8 to 13 cm long. The cones are oval-shaped and quite prickly due to the outer scales.
5. Scots Pine (Pinus Silvestris)
One would think Scots Pine is only found in Scotland, but that isn’t true. Ontario also hosts its fair share of the Scots Pine population. This tree grows up to 35 meters and has a trunk diameter of 1.7 meters on fertile lands. Its needles are a stunning shade of blue-green and found in pairs of two, with the cones being red during the time of pollination and eventually turning a pale brown.
6. Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana)
The Jack Pine is a native pine of Canada, found in the east of the Rocky Mountains and along the Mackenzie River. It is also found in Ontario, growing up to heights of 25 meters. These smaller trees often experience stunted growth due to poor soil conditions, leaving them shrub-sized. They have needles in pairs of two and twisted in shape, with the cones being 5 cm long and curved at the tip.