April 04, 2020
Column

Imposing white pine a Maine icon

Maine is the “Pine Tree State” – the eastern white pine is the state tree, and the pine cone and tassle is the state flower.

When Europeans first arrived in North America in the 1500s it’s estimated that stands of white pine contained about 3.4 billion cubic meters of lumber. The lumber has many uses, including ships’ masts and flooring, and by the mid-1800s the big stands of pine had mostly been logged over. Captain George Weymouth of the British navy brought seeds back to England and planted them there in 1605.

White pines grow in well-drained sandy soil. In undisturbed stands, they can grow to more than 150 feet high, and could live to be anywhere from 200 to 450 years old. Since they were logged so thoroughly in colonial times, the tallest pines nowadays are in the range of 100 feet. The National Register of Big Trees lists the largest white pine, located in Michigan, as 158 feet high and 66 inches in diameter. The second highest is in Maine. It is 147 feet high and 68 inches in diameter.


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