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Mountain-Prairie Region
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Whitebark pine

 

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  • White bark pines. Credit:  Richard Sniezko, US Forest Service.

    White bark pines. Credit: Richard Sniezko, US Forest Service.

  • Whitebark Pine pinecone. Credit:  Richard Sniezko, US Forest Service.

    Whitebark Pine pinecone. Credit: Richard Sniezko, US Forest Service.

Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis)

Species description: Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is a 5-needled conifer classified as a stone pine which includes five species worldwide. 

Stone pines are distinguished by large, dense seeds that lack wings and therefore depend upon birds and squirrels for dispersal across the landscape. 

Location: Whitebark pine is typically found in cold, windy, high elevation or high latitude sites in western North America and as a result, many stands are geographically isolated.  It is a stress-tolerant pine and its hardiness allows it to grow where other conifer species cannot. 

Whitebark pine is considered a keystone species because it regulates runoff by slowing the progress of snowmelt, reduces soil erosion by initiating early succession after fires and other disturbances, and provides seeds that are a high-energy food source for some birds and mammals.

The species is distributed in Coastal Mountain Ranges (from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, down to east-central California) and Rocky Mountain Ranges (from northern British Columbia and Alberta to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada).  

Whitebark pine is ecologically very significant in maintaining snow pack and regulating runoff, initiating succession after fire or other disturbance events, and providing seeds that are a high-energy food source for many species of wildlife. 


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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: January 06, 2021
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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