The Southwestern White Pine

southwestern-white-pineThe Southwestern White pine is one of many different trees that can be found in Colorado and the name says it all. Though the tree is not entirely “white,” the bark does start out light grey when young and matures to a darker brown color with deep rivets and thick texture. This pine is generally found on the southwestern slopes of the Rockies and loves to grow in some pretty strange places.

Taking root on cliffs, steep ridges, and other seemingly treacherous places, the Southwestern White pine does best in areas of fairly high elevation and low water supply. This tree does not need an excessive amount of nutrition and can live for very long periods of time with no water at all. This pine is grown domestically pretty much anywhere in all kinds of soils, but does prefer rockier terrain and a rougher landscape.

These particular pines can grow to be anywhere from 50 to 80 feet tall and live for many years. The branches of these trees are very long and cover a large amount of ground. They are not extremely full trees by any means, but they are also not the thinnest evergreens. In perfect conditions, the Southwestern Whites have long, light branches, soft needles, and thick, long cones.

The needles are usually found in bunches of five, but sometimes four. Because of this, these trees are oftentimes confused for the Limber pines. However, the Whites are generally significantly taller and have a much straighter trunk and a more upright appearance.

The cones are also very different from other conifers. Instead of having a round, squatty shape, they are longer and resemble an oval. They can be up to ten inches in length and are fairly thin as well. The bark white or grey in color turns brown over time and is also very rough and cracked.  

The Southwestern White pine is more susceptible to fire due to the bark and often fall prey to different forest bugs and animals that enjoy gnawing down on them. Despite this, however, these conifers are part of a very long-lived breed. They can remain strong through basically anything and are one of the tougher pines in the state.

Like other evergreens, this tree keeps needles all year round. Some of the needles will even stay attached to the branches for quite some time before falling off and being replaced by fresh new ones. However, not all needles will remain alive for long periods of time.

The Southwestern White pines are a lot like other evergreens native to Colorado in many ways. However, what sets them apart from the others is their preference for the southwestern part of the state. While other pines might be found spread out around all different parts of the mountains and plains, these particular trees are easy to identify from their location as well as their long cones and tall stature.

By Jason Writz