15 Red Pine
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Basic Information about this tree
  •  Scientific Name:Pinus Resinosa
  • Common Names:Red Pine, Norway Pine


    Native:  This tall, straight conifer is the state tree of Minnesota. 

  • Evergreen


    Sunlight / Moisture / Soil preference: Red pine grows well on nutrient-poor, sandy soil that cannot support the needs of most species. Grows best in average, medium moisture, well-drained sandy loams in full sun. Very little tolerance for shade.

  • Flowering type: Male and female cones generally occur on different branches of the same tree.
  • Pollination strategy: Red pine is wind- and self-pollinated. see note below 
  • Branch Structure: Their trunks are straight and uniform and may grow to five feet in diameter. When mature, the trees usually are bare of branches for two-thirds of the way up the trunk, with rounded tops or “crowns.”

  • Age Estimate/ Health:
  • Mature Size: 50-80 ft tall by 20-25 ft wide
  • Typical longevity: ~400 years old

  • GPS  Coordinates N 45.00291 92.90338

Mature Tree in Winter/ Summer

15 red pine tree summer

Leaves in Summer / Fall

 Its needles occur in clusters of two, they are dark green throughout the year.

15 red pine tree needles
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Flowers - Female & Male if monoecious

15 red pine female flower
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Fruit Unripe / Ripe

Its cones are about 2″ long, light brown fading to gray.

15 red pine unripe cone
15 red pine cone mature

Bark of Mature Tree / root system sketch

Bark is divided into large reddish-brown plates as it matures, which gives the tree its characteristic appearance and its common name, red pine.

15 red pine bark
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Red pine produces lateral roots with vertical sinker roots that are moderately deep and wide-spreading.

Uses in Traditional and Modern Eras

Value for wildlife: It can provide nesting sites for eagles and other birds, a shelter for mammals, and a habitat for mid-successional understory vegetation that provides valuable wildlife browse. 

Utility for Humans: It is quite common to see it growing in typical plantation formation: straight, linear rows with even spacing between individuals. It is one of the most heavily used timber species in Minnesota. Red pine is an important component of several forest ecosystems in Minnesota, particularly in the northern regions.  

Traditional uses in Native American Tree Medicine (historical):

Homeowner’s CornerIn cool summer climates, healthy, well-maintained trees usually have few major problems. In warm climates, the red pine is susceptible to many insect and disease problems. Needle cast, needle blight, bark canker, root rots, and rusts may occur. In some areas, budworm is the most significant insect pest. Other insect pests include sawflies, pine beetles, pine gall weevil, tussock moth, and pine needle miner.

The only species grown in Minnesota that could be confused with red pine may be Austrian pine. To test between the two, you can bend the needles to the breaking point. If the needles snap, they belong to red pine. If they bend without snapping, they belong to Austrian pine. 

Links & References

Red pine is a common sight throughout the state, growing both naturally and in plantation settings. It is commonly referred to as Norway pine, though this title carries incorrect implications because it did not originate in Norway. One story behind the title is that early settlers mistook it for Norway spruce. Another is that it was grown at high rates near the town of Norway, ME.

Flower Details: Red pines begin producing cones at 15 to 20 years of age. Their cones, about two inches long and stout, have a two-year growing cycle; they begin growing in mid-summer the first year, remain attached through the following summer, and ripen in the fall.
Typical Pollination Mechanism: Red pine is wind- and self-pollinated. Self-pollination is restricted by several factors, most important of which is the position of male and female cones in the tree crown. Female cones are generally found in the upper crown and male cones in the lower crown. In closed red pine stands self-pollination probably does not exceed 10%, but the percent of trees that self-pollinate in small isolated stands or in single isolated trees is likely greater. Butson and others state that red pine has a high degree of self-fertility, which assures viable seed production even when trees are isolated.
Male and female cones generally occur on different branches. Male cones develop at the base of the current year’s growth and are tiny and short-lived. Female cones develop in the middle third of the crown in “younger” trees and the upper third of the crown in “older” trees. Red pine, while having a wide geographic distribution, has very low genetic diversity.

Growth habit of roots: Red pine produces lateral roots with vertical sinker roots that are moderately deep and wide-spreading. It may also produce a taproot extending 0.39 to 10 feet (0.12-3 m) below ground. Lateral roots radiate from the tree in a spoke-like fashion and remain relatively close to the soil surface (4-18 inches (10-45 cm)). In a review, the lateral roots of red pine were described as being as long as 36 feet (11 m) at a site in Ontario. There were approximately a dozen main lateral roots/tree, and they reached their greatest length in 15 to 20 years. Vertical sinker roots develop from lateral roots to depths of 8.9 to 20 feet.

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