Name That Tree

By Gil Medeiros, Fairfax Master Gardener
white pine treeIf you chose a. Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), you were correct! This is another tree that is fairly easy to identify when you are driving through a neighborhood; you likely have several on your street. It is shaped like a Christmas tree when small but becomes more flat-topped when mature. The long needles tell you it is a pine, not a fir, spruce, or cypress. If you get up close to an eastern white pine, the key to identification is that the needles come in bundles of 5. The other native pines have needle bundles of 2 or 3.

Needles may persist on the tree for two to three years. Some turn yellow and drop in the fall — to the consternation of homeowners who think the tree is dying. Extension agents and master gardeners are practiced at dealing with this panic.

Eastern white pines may produce both male and female cones on the same tree. This occurs in the spring. The male cones release pollen into the air. The pollinated female cones produce seed.