Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)

Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)
Also known as: shore pine (coastal)


Bloom time: May – July

Additional photos:

General: There are two varieties of this pine: one is a smaller (up to 15 m tall) branching, coastal variety. The other is straighter, (up to 30 m tall) unbranched, and grows in the interior.

Leaves & Twigs: The paired needles are 3-7 cm long, somewhat twisted in lodgepole pine and stiffer and shorter in shore pine.

Flowers & Fruits:

  • The seed cones (4-6 cm long cylinders) often point backwards toward the tree trunk.
  • Note the short prickles on the scales of the cones.
  • The reddish green, male pollen cones occur in dense clusters at the base of the new shoots.
  • The date of pollen release varies as a result of its wide distribution.

Habitat: The lodgepole pine is a wide ranging species, and can be found in both coastal bogs and shallow sub-alpine soils.

PlantWatch Pointers: Tag a typical tree for observation.

To Observe:

  • First bloom: when the first pollen is being shed by the male cones on the observed tree (3 places).
  • Mid bloom: when 50% of the male cones are abundantly shedding pollen.

Distribution Map:

Distribution Map

This species is monitored in:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia

Lodgepole pine depends on forest fires to propagate; the heat liquifies the resin that glues together the seed cone scales, allowing them to open and release their seeds.