Red Pine – Pinus resinosa

Red Pine – Pinus resinosa
Family Pinaceae: Pine, Cedar, Spruce, Fir
Height: to 140' Spread: 40-50' Habit 
Form: Upright /  Hardy to USDA Zone 3

Red pine, also called Norway pine, is one of the most extensively planted species in the northern United States and Canada. It is a medium-size tree with lightweight, close-grained, pale reddish wood used primarily for timber and pulpwood. Trees 97 cm (38 in) in d.b.h. and 43 m (141 ft) tall in Michigan are among the largest living specimens.

Native Range – Red pine is confined to the Northern Forest region and the southern fringe of the Boreal Forest region. It grows in a narrow zone about 2400 km (1,500 mi) long and 800 km (500 mi) wide around the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, most of it within or closely adjacent to the area glaciated during the late Pleistocene (76). Its range extends from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, southern Quebec, and Maine, westward to central Ontario and southeastern Manitoba, southward to southeastern Minnesota and eastward to Wisconsin, Michigan, southern Ontario, Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts [1].

Red Pine
A Stand of Red Pine

Natural stands of red pine are confined largely to sandy soils. They are most common on Entisols followed in order by Spodosols, Alfisols, and Inceptisols. Common materials are glaciofluvial and aeolian in origin, and lacustrine deposits and loamy and finer till soils are less frequently occupied. Red pine commonly grows on dry soils low in fertility, but it is also found on a variety of sites including organic debris over rock outcrops and some structured lacustrine red clays, where it may be somewhat stunted, however. Red pine is rarely found in swamps but is common along swamp borders. It does not grow where the surface soil is alkaline, although it grows on dry, acid soils overlying well drained limestones or calcareous soils. although it can grow well on silt loams, red pine grows only sporadically on heavier soils, probably because of its inability to compete with more aggressive species and because of root injuries known to occur on some such soils. It grows especially well (height may be doubled) on naturally sub-irrigated soils with well aerated surface layers and a water table at a depth of 1 to 3 m (4 to 9 ft) [1].

Red Pine Bark
Red Pine Bark

In periods of peak population, the snowshoe hare and the cottontail often kill or reduce height growth of red pine seedlings. When preferred foods are lacking, white-tailed deer browse or destroy red pine seedlings. Porcupines girdle red pines from sapling to mature trees. Red pine has been grown primarily for the production of wood for lumber, piling, poles, cabin logs, railway ties, posts, mine timbers, box boards, pulpwood, and fuel. It has been one of the most extensively planted species in the northern United States and Canada, not only for wood production but also for dune and sandblow control, snowbreaks, windbreaks, and Christmas trees. Even when wood production is the main goal, red pine forests often are managed throughout their rotation for other uses such as recreation, wildlife habitat, and watersheds.

On sandy farmland in the Lake States, narrow strips (usually 3 to 8 rows) of red pine have been planted at intervals to reduce wind caused soil erosion in the fields. Similarly, narrow strips have been planted along roads to control snow drifting and to improve scenic aspects. Red pine has been planted to help control sand dunes near Lake Michigan and also to control "sandblows" that develop when cover is removed from light sandy soils. Such stands should be managed to retain long live crowns and to maintain good vigor without losing essential reduction of wind velocities.

Red pine stands are popular places for hiking, camping, and other recreational activities, especially when the trees are large and located near a lake or stream. Red pine forests used for recreation should be managed to maintain a high proportion of large old-growth trees [1].  

1. Paul 0. Rudolf, U.S. Forest Service Silvics Manual, "Pinus resinosa Red Pine"
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