The largest northeastern conifer, this tree grows up to 100 feet tall. In old-growth forests of Pennsylvania, it was not unusual to find trees twice this height and four to five feet in diameter. Mature trees can easily be 200 to 250 years old. Some white pines live over 400 years.
In colonial times, tall white pines with high quality wood were known as mast pines and the king’s surveyors marked these white pines, reserving them as masts for the British Royal Navy. America’s lumber industry was founded on eastern white pine. No other wood has such a wide range of applications; it can be used satisfactorily for practically every part of a home.
The branches of large white pines sweep slightly upward giving the tree a graceful, plume-like outline that is very distinct at a distance. Up close the tree can be identified by the flexible needles which are in bundles of five. The white pine weevil often attacks and kills the terminal bud causing side branches to take over. This gives the tree a bushy, deformed appearance, earning it the name “cabbage” pine. White pine is the state tree of Maine and Michigan.