Ontario's Provincial Tree
After the glaciers swept Ontario clean over ten millennia ago, the statuesque white pine, was one of the first trees to repopulate our area. These elegant giants formed the backbone of our forests, providing shelter and food for animals and supporting the settlement of first peoples. Potentially soaring over 50 meters (160 ft) in height and measuring 120 cm around (4 ft), the white pine is the tallest tree in northeastern forests and well chosen as our provincial tree.
European settlers harvested their tall straight trunks to build ships and homes and establish our communities, leaving just a few old specimens behind. The oldest living white pine in Ontario is nearing 500 years in age. Most white pines in Oakville are far younger, yet their windswept crowns add elegance and beauty to our landscapes and remind us of our heritage.
The white pine can be identified by its feathery, layered crown, so beautifully captured by our Group of Seven artists. White pine needles are blue-green, soft and long (5 to 13cm/ 2 to 5 in) and are bundled in clusters of five. Its cones are long and conical (8 to 20cm/ 3 to 8 in). Over time the smooth, steely gray bark of a white pine seedling becomes a deeply ridged grayish brown with purple-tinged scaly plates. White pines were critical to our area's early economy and continue to be a key species in our urban forest.
Resources for Identification:
- Virginia Tech Fact Sheet http://www.cnr.vt.edu/DENDRO/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=111
- Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky - The Natural History of the North Woods http://www.rook.org/earl/bwca/nature/trees/pinusstrob.html
- Boreal Forest http://www.borealforest.org/trees/tree10.htm
- Ontario Trees http://ontariotrees.com/main/species.php?id=2071
- Maine Tree Club http://www.umaine.edu/umext/mainetreeclub/FactSheets/WhitePine.htm