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The White Pine


Pinus Strobus, Linn.

The white pine (see illustrations, pages is the only pine east of the Rocky Mountains that bears its leaves in bundles of five. This semi-decimal plan is found in three western soft pines and two western hard pines; but in the East, a native tree with needles in fives, leaves no doubt as to its name. From a distance this plan of five can be seen in the five branches that form a platform each year around the central shaft.

Study a sapling pine and you see in its vigorous young growth the fulfillment of nature's plan, before storms have broken any of the branches and changed the mathematics of the pattern. Stroke the flexible, soft leaves that sway graceful and lithe in the wind. If it is spring, note that the terminal bud has pushed out, and around it five-clus tered buds are forming a circle of shoots. In autumn, after the season's growth is finished, each twig ends in a single bud, with a whorl of five buds around it. From the ground upward, count the platforms of branches. Each whorl of five marks a year in the tree's growth. The terminal bud carries the height a foot or two upward, and its surrounding five buds grow in the horizontal plane, forming the last and smallest platform of leafy shoots. Each branch is a year younger than the shoot that bears it. Note throughout this little tree the plan of five, from leaf cluster to largest branch.

Now go to the largest white pine in your neighborhood, study the plan of five in this tree, and find out the reason for any failures. Notice the conflict between the branches in the close platforms. Find branches where this conflict is in progress. Pick out the winner. Read the age of the tree by the platforms of branches on the trunk.

No evergreen is more beautiful than a white pine grown in rich soil in a situation sufficiently sheltered to defend its supple branches from breakage by severe winds. Its soft,

plume-like twigs are dark blue-green, with pale lines lining each individual leaf. The young shoots are yellow ish green, and they lighten in a wonderful manner the sombre coloring of the older foliage. At the bases of the new shoots cluster the staminate catkins, in early June. Yellow and becoming loose and pendulous as the wind shakes them, they are soon empty of their abundant pollen, which drifts like gold dust and fills the air. Among the youngest leaves, toward the end of the shoot, the pur plish rosy lips of the erect pistillate cone-flowers catch the dust from neighbor trees, and their naked ovules absorb it and set seed. Close shut are the lips again, against any other invasion, while these ovules mature. We shall find them standing erect until autumn, but next season they hang down with their added weight, and at the end of the second summer the scales change from green to brown, open and give their ripe winged seeds to the wind for dis tribution. Because the tree is biennial-fruited, it always carries two sizes of cones. The large ones are one year older than the small ones. Ripe cones are five to ten inches long, with thin, broad, unarmed scales, squarish at the tips.

The most hopeful phase of the white pine problem to-day is the fact that new forests are coming up naturally where the early lumbering deforested great tracts in the Eastern states. Careful forestry improves upon nature's method, and so the pines are being restored on land unfit for agri cultural crops. White pine is one of the most profitable timber crops to plant at the present time.

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