Lodgepole Pine

Fun Facts!

  • One of 5 native species of pine in Alberta, Lodgepole Pine is the provincial tree emblem for Alberta.

  • This tree is tall! It can grow up to 30 meters!

  • Lodgepole Pine is able to tolerate very low nutrient sites. Without this advantage, it can be easily outcompeted by other conifer species.

  • The needles on the Lodgepole Pine are actually the leaves of the plant.

  • Needles on this tree are in a pair. You will see 2 needles growing together in each fascicle (bundle of needles).

  • Lodgepole Pine have both male pollen cones (found on the tips of branches) and female seed cones (larger, noticeable ones) on the same tree. The female seed cones bear hardened scales with small prickles.

  • The female seed cones spread or point backwards, towards the trunk.

  • Cones open with fire (or hot heat from direct sunlight). That means that this tree needs regular fire cycles to spread their seeds.

  • Lodgepole Pine is most common in mountainous areas.

  • This tree can cross-breed with Jack Pine

  • A large stand of Lodgepole Pine is sometimes referred to as “Dog-Hair Stand."

Animal Connections

  • Lodgepole Pine is used for shelter by many animals. This includes bats, who rest or sleep under dry peeling bark.

  • Lodgepole Pine can also provide food for some animals. The cones are collected by red-tailed squirrels who eat the seeds found inside. As well, the inner bark can sometimes eaten by bears!

  • These pines have cones which need fire or heat to open and release the seeds. In a healthy situation, fires regenerate forests and recycle nutrients, providing grazing vegetation for larger species like bison, and allowing plant species requiring open canopy to flourish, creating new homes for little critters.

Human Connections

  • Lodgepole Pine is an important timber species in Alberta.

  • Different oils and tars from Lodgepole Pine can be used as an antiseptic, disinfectant, or insecticidal.

  • One issue for this tree is Mountain Pine Beetle, or MPB. A drive through Jasper National Park shows the impact of MPB – the red pines are being impacted and killed by the beetle. This impacts people because it is no good as timber if it has been affected by MPB. The dead trees are also a fuel source for forest fires, so it becomes a forest and fire management issue. Normally fires are healthy and required to maintain many landscapes, but can be a danger when the fuel source is so high around populated areas.

  • First Nations/ Indigenous/Metis have many uses for each part of this tree:

    • Straight growth pattern means it was good for teepee poles by many Indigenous groups and Native Americans (US),

    • Wood for fire (it is high in resin, so burns more easily) & building (cabins, sleds, etc),

    • Branches were used for tools & windbreaks

    • The needels were used for tea as a source of Vitamin C

    • The inner bark & seeds are edible, and were used for food.

    • The inner bark could also be boiled and applied to wounds / sores / burns

    • The bark, needles, & resin could be used to help with aches, infections, skin ailments (e.g., burns)

    • The resin (pitch) could be used for aches, infections, and insect bites. It could also be used as a disinfectant, breath freshener, as a way to, waterproof canoes, and even as a glue to mend tools.