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Trees of Yosemite (1932, 1948) by Mary Curry Tresidder


Western White Pine

Pinus monticola Don.

Western White Pine Cones. Slightly Less than 1/2 Natural Size
Western White Pine Cones
Slightly Less than 1/2 Natural Size

This tree, which is locally known as Mountain Pine or Little Sugar Pine rather than by its more formal titles, Silver Pine and Western White Pine, is a near relative of the Sugar Pine, which it resembles in many particulars. It grows on mountainsides from 7,800 to 9,500 feet in altitude, marching with Lodgepole Pine and Red Fir; in its upper range, it touches shoulders with Mountain Hemlock and, occasionally, with White Bark Pine, while the Sierra Juniper is a neighbor of the rocks. It is one of the few trees of the region not to be found at all on the floor of the Yosemite Valley, but it may be seen along the Tioga Road near Lake Tenaya and again between Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass. The ridge running northward from Mount Watkins has some splendid specimens, as has the Mount Conness Trail. On the Isberg Pass Trail, the hillside above the McClure Fork is clothed with a magnificent forest of Red Fir and Western White Pine.

In open country such as the shores of Lake Washburn, it is a tall and stately guardian of the shining waters, a tree of eighty to one hundred feet in height and from two to four feet in diameter of the trunk. In more closely forested regions it does not attain such height, but is a tree of some fifty or sixty feet, its dense branches giving it a pyramidal effect, which is usually broken by one or two long, horizontal limbs.

As it is one of our three White Pines, the needles are five in a bundle; they are bluish-green in color, and rather shorter than those of the Sugar Pine. Its cones, though similar, are on a smaller scale, and rather more open when ripe. They ripen at the end of the second summer, and remain on the tree only a short time after they have opened and shed their seeds.

The the bark varies greatly in color: in the young tree it is gray, becoming roughened and taking on a purplish tinge in dense forest; on open slopes it turns to cinnamon. In mature trees the trunk is checked in small, flat blocks, not deeply fissured. This gives it a peculiar texture, a bark pattern which at once differentiates hates it from all other trees of the district.



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