Red Pine (aka. Norway Pine3,4)
Pine Family/ Pinaceae
This beautiful Red Pine tree was photographed growing on the riverbank not far from where the river meets the Northumberland Strait in Nova Scotia. This particular river is perfect for swimming with the tidal current or drifting on a pool noodle while watching the tree lined riverbanks for bald eagles. Balsam fir, red spruce, grey and white birch, and maples are just some of the companion trees.
Red Pine trees can be distinguished from the taller White Pines that dominate Massachusetts by the number of needles per bundle. White Pines have 5 needles for the 5 letters in the word W-H-I-T-E, whereas Red Pines have only 2 needles per bundle1,2,3. Pitch Pines have 3 needles per bundle and Scotch Pines have 2 needles per bundle1,2,3.
The long 4-6” length1,2,3 of the Red Pine needles, with a visible basal sheath4, can also be used to distinguish this species from Scotch Pine whose needles are only 2 ¼” long2. Red Pine bark has red and grey scales with the inner scales being redder. These scales can also look like plates in some specimens.
Red Pines can be found in New England, the Canadian Maritimes, and most states and provinces that border the great lakes3. The brown female cones are 2” long and oval or egg shaped2,3. Red Pines, like most pine trees, are monoecious, having both male and female cones on the same tree4. Many field guides inform us that red pines grow in upland areas3, but this one seems to be happy on the riverbank. They can grow from 50-80’ tall2,3 and 1-2’ in diameter, but can reach 85’ tall and 3’ in diameter3.
If you’ve stumbled upon this page while identifying and enjoying your own red pine trees, please let us know what your own observations are in our comment section below.
- 1. Alden, P., Cassie, B. (1998). National Audubon Society Field Guide to New England. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, inc..
2. Reader’s Digest (1982). North American Wildlife. Pleasantville, N.Y.: Reader’s Digest Association
3. Petrides, G.A. (1988). Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Trees. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company
4. Boland, T. (2012). Trees & Shrubs of the Maritimes. Newfoundland: Boulder Publications.