The height and circumference measurements listed here are for the largest-known white pine tree in Atlanta. This tree is located in Chastain Park.
White pine trees are easily identifiable from a distance by their form and color. They often look like oversized Christmas trees. The branches grow out in a horizontal or slightly ascending angle. The needles are long, from 3-5 inches, bluish-green in color, and soft to the touch.
Pick a brutally hot day when an egg will cook over a bare piece of concrete. Retreat under a white pine and take in a big lungful of air through your nose. Ahhhhhhhhh! The fragrance added to the soft carpet of needles makes you want to stay awhile and forget all those busy productive things you could be doing.
You can find some really big white pines in Atlanta, but this species is much more common in the north Georgia forests going northward all the way up to New England. It is sometimes planted as an ornamental tree. It’s a really pretty tree if you plant it in the right spot, thinking what it will look like when it fills out decades later.
The sap. This tree is sticky with natural secretions. This is one of its quirks. The sap flow might not be a big deal if you can ignore drip lines that flow down the tree. It looks like the tree is crying or is dying from some weep-inducing condition. It’s not. Anyone who puts a bare hand on this tree will probably pull away with a sticky black sap mark.
White pine wood is soft and very brittle. The branches are long, too. What this means is that during a moderate ice storm, there is extensive limb shedding. The tree inspector will tell you if this tree poses a threat to your house.
This tree has historical importance. It used to be the most important tree as far as commercial value. Empires were built on this tree when it was harvested for timber in its virgin state. The trees used to be huge and in great numbers for thousand mile stretches. There aren’t many virgin trees left now, mostly second or third growth stands. Humankind has a bad practice of loving to death that which they use.
Needles (1) Bill Cook, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org
Needles (2): Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org
Pine cone (1): Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org
Pine cone (2): Keith Kanoti, Maine Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Bark: Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org