White-Bark Pine

Forests of Crater Lake National Park

White-Bark Pine (Pinus Albicaulis)

The white-bark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is the best mountaineer in the region (fig. 19). On the high rocky ridges and rims, it is a short stunted tree, gnarled and rounded by the buffeting wind, with its limbs bowed and spread over the ground by the winter snows. Usually it is not over 20 feet high and 20 inches in diameter, and its stout trunk, limbs, and large twigs, clothed with white bark, form a pleasing contrast with the yellow-green foliage.

Fig. 19—White-bark pine (Pinus albicaulis).

The needles of white-bark pine are in clusters of five, and are thickly massed near the ends of the branches. The cones are small, about 2-1/2 inches long, with thick heavy scales that are a light russet brown when mature. Few whole cones are found on or beneath the tree, as the squirrels and chipmunks know full well the value of their meaty seeds.

White-bark pine is common on the rim of Crater Lake, on Wizard Island, and on many of the higher surrounding peaks. Throughout the range of this tree in the Cascades, Sierras, and northern Rockies, it rarely descends below an elevation of 6,000 feet. Nowhere is it valued for commercial purposes, as its trunks are gnarled and knotty, and it nearly always is found in inaccessible situations.

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