Nature’s Notebook

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Photo for species Pinus_contorta

Pinus contorta is adapted to fire.  This species is attacked by blue stain fungus delivered by the mountain pine beetle.

Photo Credit:
© Walter Siegmund via Wikimedia Commons

Pinus contorta

lodgepole pine, scrub pine, shore pine, tamarack pine
What does this species look like?
What does this species look like?: 

The trunk of this tree has scaly bark and can be between 2 and 34 meters tall at maturity. There are two needles per bundle and needles are between 2.5 and 6.8 centimeters long with a persistent sheath.  The seed cone hangs less than 6 centimeters long and is angled in appearance with knobs at the tip of the scales.

Pinus contorta is found in many habitats from coastal to subalpine forests. It is found at elevations less than 3500 meters.

Where is this species found?
States & Provinces: 
AB, AK, BC, CA, CO, ID, MT, NT, NV, OR, SD, SK, UT, WA, WY, YT
Special Considerations for Observing

 The female seed cones of this species often will not open and appear "ripe" until after a forest fire.

Which phenophases should I observe?
Needles

Do you see...?

Emerging needles
One or more emerging needles or needle bundles (fascicles) are visible on the plant. A needle or needle bundle is considered "emerging" once the green tip is visible along the newly developing stem (candle), but before the needles have begun to unfold and spread away at an angle from others in the bundle.

How many needle bundles are emerging?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

Young needles
One or more young, unfolded needles are visible on the plant. A needle is considered "young" and "unfolded" once it begins to spread away at an angle from other needles in the bundle (and is no longer pressed flat against them), but before it has reached full size or turned the darker green color or tougher texture of mature needles on the plant.

How many bundles with young needles are present?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

Pollen cones

Do you see...?

Pollen cones
One or more fresh, male pollen cones (strobili) are visible on the plant. Cones have overlapping scales that are initially tightly closed, then spread apart to open the cone and release pollen. Include cones that are unopened or open, but do not include wilted or dried cones that have already released all of their pollen.

How many fresh pollen cones are present?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

Open pollen cones
One or more open, fresh, male pollen cones (strobili) are visible on the plant. Cones are considered "open" when the scales have spread apart to release pollen. Do not include wilted or dried cones that have already released all of their pollen.

What percentage of all fresh pollen cones (unopened plus open) on the plant are open?

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

Pollen release
One or more male cones (strobili) on the plant release visible pollen grains when gently shaken or blown into your palm or onto a dark surface.

How much pollen is released?

Little: Only a few grains are released.;Some: Many grains are released.;Lots: A layer of pollen covers your palm, or a cloud of pollen can be seen in the air when the wind blows

Seed cones

Do you see...?

Unripe seed cones
One or more unripe, female seed cones are visible on the plant. For Pinus contorta, an unripe seed cone is green or brown with scales closed together.

How many seed cones are unripe?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

More...

Ripe seed cones
One or more ripe, female seed cones are visible on the plant. For Pinus contorta, a seed cone is considered ripe when it has turned brown and the scales have begun to spread apart to expose the seeds inside. Do not include empty cones that have already dropped all of their seeds.

How many seed cones are ripe?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

More...

Recent cone or seed drop
One or more seed cones or seeds have dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit. Do not include empty seed cones that had long ago dropped all of their seeds but remained on the plant.

How many seed cones have dropped seeds or have completely dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

More...