The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

Going Native: Eastern White Pine

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Last year in late Spring I chanced upon an Eastern White Pine, Pinus Strobus, at Lowe’s wrapped in burlap. As I said, it was late Spring and not an ideal time for planting burlap-wrapped roots, but our Spring in 2009 was cold and behind schedule so I chanced it. For the sale price of $25 I brought home a beautiful, young Eastern White Pine. It was on my list of native plants to purchase and I could now check it off. Its tag even declared it a native.

Here it is in 2009 soon after planting.

Here it is this morning in Fall of 2010. As you can see it made it and has grown substantially in just one year’s time. The Eastern White Pine adds one new row of growth each year. It is the tallest conifer in the Northeast – but I have made room for it on my small village lot.

Fall is the time when the Eastern White Pine sheds its old needles. You may see some of the needles turn yellow.

Buds for next year’s growth all tucked in.

The Eastern White Pine dominates the views on the St. Lawrence River. The skyline is made of their wind sculptured forms. In the open landscape their tiered, whorling branches will spread horizontally. In dense, protected forests they grow tall and straight. During colonial times, their tall, straight trunks were sought after to use in building ship masts.

View from Grindstone Island looking towards Canada.
View of Goose Bay in the Fall.

The Eastern White Pine provides food and shelter for many forms of wildlife. According to Douglas Tallamy (author of Bringing Nature Home – an excellent book I own and recommend for anyone interested in habitat gardening), the Eastern White Pine is favored by 203 species of moths, butterflies and insects! All those insects mean food for birds. The cones are also eaten by many birds.

Young cones on Eastern White Pine at Wellesley Island Nature Center.

Many birds of prey will use the Eastern White Pine to build their nests. Here, that may include a Bald Eagle, Osprey or Great Horned Owl. I would be extremely thrilled if any of these magnificent birds chose my pine to nest in given a few years. Looking up the trunk of this local, mature White Pine, I can see the appeal.

I guess mine has a few more years to go. Utility poles and channel markers are modern substitutes. I wonder if this pole was made from the Eastern White Pine?

This osprey nests each year at my friend’s family camp on Grindstone Island.
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Author: Kathy Sturr

Author of the Violet Fern blog, artist, and master gardener.

One thought on “Going Native: Eastern White Pine

  1. Very nice! I just planted one this year too, though a smaller plant then the one you bought. It has turned pretty yellowish and i was worried but you eased my mind since its when they shed them now. I too chose it for wildlife wanting more shelter for birds all year long.

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