13 Most Common North American Pine Species

common North American pine species tree illo

Treehugger / Hilary Allison

Pine is a coniferous tree in the genus Pinus, in the family Pinaceae. There are about 111 species of pines worldwide, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.

Pines are native to most of the Northern Hemisphere, with 49 species of native pines in North America. They are the most ubiquitous conifer in the United States, easily recognized by most people, and very successful in maintaining solid and valuable stands. Here are the most common and valuable pines that are native to the United States and Canada.

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Eastern White Pine

Eastern white pine

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The Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) is identified best by its reddish-brown bark and deep furrows, which it acquires as the tree ages. It typically grows to be between 50 and 80 feet tall. The Easter white pine is commonly used for furniture and is sold as a Christmas tree.

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Western White Pine

Found mostly in parts of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and California, the Western white pine (Pinus monticola) features blue-green needles that measure at about 3 to 4 inches long. The tree's bark is either dark or light grey and becomes checked with age.

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Sugar Pine

Sugar pine forest

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The sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) can be identified by its huge cones, which can reach lengths of more than 20 inches and are about 4 to 6 inches wide. Sugar pines can grow to great heights, as well—as tall as 250 feet, although the average size is 130-200 feet. You can find this species in the mountainous regions of the Pacific coast.

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Red Pine

Red pine needles

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Red pine (Pinus resinosa) can grow to be 75 feet tall or more, depending on the environmental conditions. Its bark is mostly reddish-brown and sometimes pink or grey, featuring scaly plates. Red pines have two needles per fascicle and are measured at about 4-6 inches long.

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Pitch Pine

Pitch pine trees (Pinus rigida) grow along the eastern North American coast and as far south as northern Georgia. This species thrives in a humid climate and on sandy, shallow soils. Pitch pines have been reported to live for up to 200 years and grow to about 100 feet tall.

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Jack Pine

Jack pine cone and needles

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A small- to medium-sized species, jack pine (Pinus banksiana) is found in the Great Lakes region and parts of Canada. This rapidly growing evergreen tree has a small, rounded crown with short bundles of needles. Jack pine is often used for timber and sometimes landscaping.

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Longleaf Pine

Longleaf pine forest

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Longleaf pines (Pinus palustris) have bright green needles and thick bark features scales. The tree can take up to 150 years to mature, living for even longer under ideal growing conditions. You can find longleaf pines in the southeastern United States.

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Shortleaf Pine

Shortleaf pine cones and needles

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With the widest range of all of the pine species in the southeastern United States, it won't be too difficult to find a shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) tree. This species is also one of the most common commercial conifers, as it is used for lumber, pulpwood, and more.

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Loblolly Pine

The loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) grows quickly, with a spread of between 30 and 35 feet, reaching as tall as 80 feet sometimes. These trees produce cones that are about three to six inches in length and are reddish-brown in color. Loblolly pine grows mostly throughout the southern United States and along both coasts.

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Slash Pine

Slash pine tree

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The slash pine (Pinus elliottii) is a heavily branched tree, featuring long, dark green needles that do not change color in the fall. Its bark is reddish-brown and has furrows and thin scales. It's native to the Southern United States, including Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, and both Carolinas. It can reach heights of up to 100 feet, and is commonly used in reforestation projects.

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Virginia Pine

A small tree that might grow to be as tall as 40 feet, Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana) is pyramid-shaped when young, and the crown flattens out with age. Other common names include scrub pine and Jersey pine. Its needles cluster on dwarf shoots, are short, and are yellow-green to dark green in color. Virginia pine tends to attract butterflies, moths, birds, and small mammals. It's hardier than other pines.

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Lodgepole Pine

Lodgepole Pine Branch with Cones

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The lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) can be identified by its slender trunk and narrow crown. It can thrive in a variety of conditions, with low or high moisture. They can reach heights of up to 150 feet, and are considered fast-growing, but many lodgepole pines tend to be smaller.

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Ponderosa Pine

Ponderosa pines

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Also known as western yellow pine, ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) is found scattered along western North America, from southern Canada down to Mexico. The bark of this species has a rough texture, developing large plates as it matures.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How many different varieties of pine trees are there?

    There are about 111 species of pine tree in the genus Pinus, although some taxonomy authorities offer a higher or lower count. 

    Within those species, there are many different subspecies or cultivars (plants bread for specific traits or features). Cultivars may also be called varieties, particularly in a landscaping context. Subspecies and cultivars may both be considered trinomials, and the American Confer Society counts 819 pine trinomials at the time of publication.

    Additionally, two pine species can be crossed to produce a hybrid. This hybridization has occurred in nature and is also common in commercial forestry. There are over 95 successful commercial pine hybrids.  

  • How many types of pine trees are there in the United States?

    There are 49 species of pine tree native to North America. Non-native species have also been introduced to the United Sates, as ornamental trees in landscaping. 

View Article Sources
  1. Gernandt, David. S., Gretel Geada López, Sol Ortiz García, and Aaron Liston. "Phylogeny and classification of Pinus." Taxon, vol. 54, 2018, pp. 29-42. doi:10.2307/25065300

  2. Hernández-León, Sergion, David S. Gernandt, Jorge A. Pérez de la Rosa, and Lev Jardón-Barbolla. "Phylogenetic Relationships and Species Delimitation in Pinus Section Trifoliae Inferrred from Plastid DNA." PLOS ONE, vol.8, no. 7, 2013, pp. e70501. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070501

  3. "Pinus elliottii." USDA Plants Database. 

  4. Pinus Genus (pine).” American Confer Society. 

  5. Critchfield, W.B. “Interspecific Hybridization in Pinus: A Summary Review.” U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Rands Experiment Station.