Northern Ontario Plant Database
Pinus resinosa Aiton
En: red pine, Norway pine, Quebec pine, hard pine, bull pine
Pinaceae (Pine Family)
General: A tall long-lived evergreen tree, to 37 m tall. Red pine is a deep-rooted shade-intolerant species adapted to germination after fire; its seeds germinate best where mineral soil is partially exposed. Red pine, often grown in plantations, is an important source of lumber and pulpwood.
Stems/twigs: Twigs reddish-brown and glabrous; branching is often whorled. Trunks are usually very straight with most branches occurring in the broad crown of the tree. Buds are ovoid, scaly, resinous, and pointed. Bark on mature trunks is scaly and grayish to pale reddish-brown; older trunks have furrowed bark with flat scaly ridges.
Needles: Evergreen, simple, sessile. All pine species have their needles arranged in small groups called fascicles. Each pine species has a characteristic number of needles per fascicle; in red pine, there are 2 needles per fascicle. Each fascicle is bound at the base by a persistent tubular sheath, 1—2.5 cm long, composed of overlapping rows of silvery-gray transparent bracts. Red pine needles are long, narrow, and straight, 7—17 cm long, brittle when bent in half, dark green, pointed (acute) at the apex, and semicircular in cross section (flat on the upper surface and rounded beneath).
Reproductive structures/cones: Unisexual, with male and female cones on different branches of the same tree (monoecious). Male cones are ellipsoid, with many cones clustered at the base of new growth on terminal shoots; male cones are shed after pollen is released. Immature female cones are ellipsoid, reddish-purple, erect, and terminal on new shoots.
Since two growing seasons are required for pine seed cones to mature, cones in 3-stages of development will be present on branches. The cone scales of the immature cones open in spring for pollination, then close tightly until seeds are mature at the end of the second growing season. One-year-old cones are ovoid with the light brown ends of the cone scales surrounded by black; mature cones are light brown, broadly ovate, 4—7 cm long, and shed their winged seeds in late fall of their second year.
Habitat and Range: Nutrient-poor, well-drained, sandy and rocky sites. Red pine has a Canadian range that extends from central Newfoundland to southeastern Manitoba. In Ontario, it occurs throughout Algoma and across the Province.
Similar Species: White pine (Pinus strobus L.) is similar to red pine in stature, habitat, and needle length, but white pine has 5 slender needles per fascicle and its cones are long and narrow, 8—20 cm [long, green when immature, and brown at maturity. Like red pine, jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) is a fire-adapted species with only 2 needles per fascicle, but jack pine needles are much shorter, 2—5 cm long; their light brown cones are also shorter, 3—5.5 cm long, and often curved when immature.Back to species list