Red Pine Tree Facts

Red pine tree bark
Red pine tree bark (Image: Red pine bark with snow image by jeanniner9 from

The red pine tree (Pinus resinosa), also known as the Norway pine, is in the Pinaceae family. Along with about 35 other pine species, the red pine is considered aesthetically pleasing, and so has served an ornamental purpose. The tree also produces durable wood, which is used in building projects.

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Until about 15,000 years ago, the red pine was common in the southeast of North America. After that time, the tree population moved northward, where it flourished in the Great Lakes area. In the modern era, manufacturers have used red pine for structural and mining timbers, railroad ties and telephone poles.


A red pine reaches an average height of 80 to 85 feet, while the maximum height can approach 150 feet. The diameter of the trunk averages 1.5 to 3 feet. The bark is reddish-brown, and it is the origin of the tree's label. The red pine has double-clustered evergreen pine needles, which reach an average length of 5 inches. The tree also has spike-less pine cones, which have an average length of 2 to 3 inches. The needles and cones are supported by branches, which develop in spiral patterns as the tree grows. The age limit of the red pine is between 350 to 400 years.

Habitat and Climate

The ideal climate for a red pine is a dry, low-growth type of area that is found around the southern parts of Canada, and northern parts of North America. The tree can be found on mountain and hillsides, and on deserted plains. The ideal soil does not have to be well-watered since the red pine does thrive in drought-like conditions. However, it should be loose and be able to promote drainage. Sand is an example of loose, well-draining soil.

Species Identification

The white pine (Pinus strobus) and the jack pine (Pinus banksiana) may be mistaken for a red pine. The white pine features needles in single clusters, while the red pine has double clusters. The jack pine has smaller pine cones than the red pine.

Positive Aspects

A full-grown red pine develops a thick layer of bark and does not have low-lying branches. These characteristics make the mature red pine fire-resistant. Bald eagles build nests on the uppermost branches of mature red pines, which provide a line of sight above most neighboring trees.


Currently, the red pine population is declining, as healthy trees, according to the Cornell University Plant Diagnostic Clinic, are "suddenly" dying. One proposed cause is called "wet feet," which is poorly drained soil that causes root decay and rot. Drought, which produces a soil condition directly opposed to "wet feet," is another proposed cause.


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