The Two Pinoideae of Southern Coastal BC - How to Identify! May 03, 2016 14:33

As a preface, I would like to highlight the majesty of Coastal British Columbia’s natural environment by introducing you to Aplodontia rufa, the mountain beaver.

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Looook at it. Such a cutie-puhtootie.

Ahem. Today, I’ll be talking about trees. The Pinoideae sub-family, to be exact, within the larger Pinaceae family. To be exacter still, I'm focusing on the two main Pinus species in Coastal BC. They are both beautiful and deserve love.

Without further ado.

Pinus contorta subsp. contorta – shore pine

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One of four subspecies of Pinus contorta, these glorious beasts of trees can be found close to the ocean in craggy, low nutrient conditions. Their growth can often seem eccentric, windswept. Pinus contorta var. latifolia, a close relative, is found in less immediately coastal environments, distinguished by its taller and straighter appearance as well as a more red-coloured bark.

Identification

  • Needles in pairs
  • Eccentric growth pattern
  • Pollen cones in clusters, reddish, at tips of branches (spring only)
  • Egg-shaped seed cones with pointy tips

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 Pinus monticola – western white pine

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The above picture well describes Pinus monticola’s overall mature form – tall, thin, and symmetrical. You’ll find these marvelous creatures in a range of conditions, from sea-level to sub-alpine, from damp ravines and valleys to dry, exposed slopes. When young, the bark is smooth and studded with resin blisters. A fungus by the name of “white pine blister rust” has been killing off these trees in scores, to the point where they exist in only a fraction of the abundance of a century ago, when the fungus was first introduced.

Identification

  • Scaly dark grey bark, light-brown-coloured underneath
  • Needles in bunches of five, light blue-green
  • Yellow pollen cones, small (up to 1 cm long) in clusters at tips of branches
  • Seed cones cylindrical, no spiky bits, 10-25 cm long

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I hope this post has left you feeling bright and sparky! Now get out there and appreciate ye some pine trees.