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Pinus strobus - L.

Common Name White Pine, Eastern white pine
Family Pinaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards The wood, sawdust and resins from various species of pine can cause dermatitis in sensitive people[222]. Avoid if allergies. Avoid internally if suffering from asthma or bronchitis. The astringent taste may cause stomach discomfort [301].
Habitats Woods, especially on sandy drift soils or fertile well-drained soils, sometimes on river banks and rarely in swamps[82]. Often forming dense forests[235].
Range Eastern N. America - Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to Georgia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Pinus strobus White Pine, Eastern white pine

Pinus strobus White Pine, Eastern white pine

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Bloom Color: Pink, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Pyramidal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Pinus strobus is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a fast rate.It is in leaf 12-Jan, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. It cannot tolerate atmospheric pollution.


Leucopitys strobus. Pinus nivea. Pinus tenuifolia. Strobus strobus.


Canopy;  Woodland Garden.

Woods, especially on sandy drift soils or fertile well-drained soils, sometimes on river banks and rarely in swamps[82]. Often forming dense forests[235].

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers;  Inner bark;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Drink;  Gum;  Tea.

Seed - raw or cooked[102, 159]. Rather small and fiddly, it is only about 6mm long[200]. The seed is mainly used as a flavouring in cooking[213]. The fresh needles are brewed into an aromatic tea that is rich in vitamins A and C[183]. A refreshing drink is made from the leaves[159]. An acceptable candy is made by boiling the tender new shoots in syrup[183]. The sticky amber sap can be used for chewing[102, 159]. A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood[200]. The firm unexpanded male cones can be boiled and used as a flavouring[177, 183]. A pleasant sweet flavour[257]. Inner bark - raw or cooked. A sweet flavour[105, 159, 161, 213]. There are no more details but inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiscorbutic;  Demulcent;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Miscellany;  Pectoral;  Poultice;  Salve.

White pine was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes who valued it especially for its antiseptic and vulnerary qualities, using it extensively in the treatment of skin complaints, wounds, burns, boils etc[257]. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so was used in treating coughs, colds, influenza and so on[257]. The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge[4]. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections[4]. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB[4]. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers[4]. A poultice of pitch has been used to draw out toxins from boils and reduce the pain[257]. The dried inner bark is demulcent, diuretic and expectorant[4]. An infusion was used as a treatment for colds[213] and it is still used as an ingredient in commercial cough syrups, where it serves to promote the expulsion of phlegm[213]. A poultice made from the pounded inner bark is used to treat cuts, sores and wounds[213]. The wetted inner bark can be used as a poultice on the chest in treating strong colds[257]. The dried inner bark contains 10% tannin, some mucilage, an oleoresin, a glycoside and a volatile oil[213]. A tea made from the young needles is used to treat sore throats[213]. It is a good source of vitamin C and so is effective against scurvy[213]. An infusion of the young twigs has been used in the treatment of kidney disorders and pulmonary complaints[257]. The powdered wood has been used as a dressing on babies chaffed skin, sores and improperly healed navels[257].

Other Uses

Dye;  Gum;  Herbicide;  Miscellany;  Pitch;  Waterproofing;  Wood.

A tan or green dye is obtained from the needles[168]. The needles contain a substance called terpene, this is released when rain washes over the needles and it has a negative effect on the germination of some plants, including wheat[201]. Oleo-resins are present in the tissues of all species of pines, but these are often not present in sufficient quantity to make their extraction economically worthwhile[64]. The resins are obtained by tapping the trunk, or by destructive distillation of the wood[4, 64]. In general, trees from warmer areas of distribution give the higher yields[64]. Turpentine consists of an average of 20% of the oleo-resin[64] and is separated by distillation[4, 64]. Turpentine has a wide range of uses including as a solvent for waxes etc, for making varnish, medicinal etc[4]. Rosin is the substance left after turpentine is removed. This is used by violinists on their bows and also in making sealing wax, varnish etc[4]. Pitch can also be obtained from the resin and is used for waterproofing canoes, containers etc, as a wood preservative etc[257]. Wood - straight and close-grained, light, soft, not strong, works easily and takes an excellent natural or painted finish[46, 61, 82, 171, 226, 229]. It weighs 24lb per cubic foot[235]. A very valuable timber[235], the wood is especially suited for making the masts of ships[4] and is also used for lumber, cheap furniture, house interiors, construction etc[46, 61, 82, 171, 226, 229].

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Christmas tree, Aggressive surface roots possible, Screen, Superior hedge, Specimen. Thrives in a light well-drained sandy or gravelly loam[1, 11]. Dislikes poorly drained moorland soils[1]. Established plants tolerate drought[200]. Intolerant of atmospheric pollution[188]. The white pine is a very important timber crop in its native range, the huge stands that existed before the Europeans went to N. America have been largely cut down[229]. It is a fast-growing and fairly long-lived tree[229] that is often cultivated as a timber tree, especially in central Europe[50]. Young trees grow very vigorously with new shoots of up to 1 metre common. Growth slows and almost ceases by the time the tree is 20 metres tall[185]. Trees can produce cones when 5 - 10 years old, but reliable seed production takes another 10 years[229]. Good crops are produced every 3 - 5 years in the wild, with little seed in the intervening years[229]. The cones are 10 - 20cm long and take 2 years to mature[82, 229], they open and shed their seed in late summer whilst still attached to the tree[82, 226]. Plants often self-sow in Britain[185]. Plants are strongly outbreeding, self-fertilized seed usually grows poorly[200]. They hybridize freely with other members of this genus[200]. Trees have a very thin bark, which makes them particularly susceptible to forest fires[226]. This species is very susceptible to white pine blister rust, it should not be grown near any gooseberries or currants (Ribes species) since these plants can act as vectors for the disease[1, 120]. Plants are also subject to aphid damage[1]. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. Leaf secretions inhibit the germination of seeds, thereby reducing the amount of plants that can grow under the trees[18]. Special Features: Attracts birds, Attractive foliage, North American native, Fragrant foliage, Naturalizing, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.


It is best to sow the seed in individual pots in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if this is possible otherwise in late winter. A short stratification of 6 weeks at 4°c can improve the germination of stored seed[80]. Plant seedlings out into their permanent positions as soon as possible and protect them for their first winter or two[11]. Plants have a very sparse root system and the sooner they are planted into their permanent positions the better they will grow[K]. Trees should be planted into their permanent positions when they are quite small, between 30 and 90cm[200]. We actually plant them out when they are about 5 - 10cm tall. So long as they are given a very good weed-excluding mulch they establish very well[K]. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance[200]. Cuttings. This method only works when taken from very young trees less than 10 years old. Use single leaf fascicles with the base of the short shoot. Disbudding the shoots some weeks before taking the cuttings can help. Cuttings are normally slow to grow away[81].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Readers comment

carole Leigh   Sat Mar 4 2006

where can you buy syrup of white pine please?

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Subject : Pinus strobus  
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