Lodgepole Pine, An Important Tree in North America

Pinus contorta, A Top 100 Common Tree in North America

Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) is a two-needled pine of the subgenus Pinus. The species has been divided geographically into four varieties: P. contorta var. contorta, P. contorta var. bolanderi, P. contorta var. murrayana and P. contorta var. latifolia. Lodgepole pine is not only an important timber species but is also a major tree cover throughout the Western United States, is enjoyed in many scenic and recreational areas and especially important on critical watersheds.
of 05

The Silviculture of Lodgepole Pine

Lodgepole Pine. Brewbooks/Flickr

Lodgepole pine provides many acres of wildlife habitat and is associated with many grazing allotments throughout its range. It is important to local communities throughout the West.

Lodgepole pine is used for framing, paneling, posts, corral poles, utility poles, railroad ties, and pulpwood. As new developments such as structural particleboard become practical, the rapid juvenile growth of the species will be an advantage where gross cubic volume becomes important. Even now, with properly designed machinery, it is economically harvested, and this harvesting, properly done, can enhance watershed, forage, wildlife habitat, and scenic and recreational values.

Pinus contorta subsp. murrayana. S.Rae/Flickr
Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of lodgepole pine. The tree is a conifer and the lineal taxonomy is Pinopsida > Pinales > Pinaceae > Pinus contorta. Lodgepole pine is also commonly called scrub pine, shore pine, tamarack pine. More »
of 05

The Range of Lodgepole Pine

Lodgepole pine is an important tree with wide ecological benefits. It grows throughout the Rocky Mountain and Pacific coast regions, extending north to about latitude 64° N. in the Yukon Territory and south to about latitude 31° N. in Baja California, and west to east from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Forests dominated by lodgepole pine cover some 15 million acres in the Western United States and some 50 million acres in Canada.
Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine is susceptible to fire; thin bark renders it vulnerable to fire-kill due to cambium heating. However, mature Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine can survive low-severity fire. More »
Remarks: "It has become naturalized in some areas including New Zealand, and more locally in Britain; in New Zealand this has become a serious problem adversely affecting native vegetation." More »