Types of Pine Trees with Identification Guide, Chart and Pictures

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Pine Trees with Identification and Pictures
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Pine trees are evergreen coniferous trees that are native to most countries in the Northern Hemisphere. Pine trees belong to the family Pinaceae and the genus Pinus. It is estimated that there are over 126 species of pine trees in the world. Pines are resinous trees that are related to other types of conifers such as fir trees, cedars, and spruces.

Different types of pine trees grow in many different environments that include cold regions in North America, rain forests, and hot sandy deserts. Pine trees are also an important source of wood because they grow fast and are tall, straight trees. Even though pine wood is a type of softwood, many species are hard and strong enough to use in construction.

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Wood from pine trees is used to make furniture, flooring, construction frames, and timber. Pine wood is also an important source of pulp to make paper.

In this article, you will learn about the various types of pine trees. As well as their scientific name, descriptions of pines and pictures of pine trees will help you identify them.

Pine Tree Identification

pine or fir

Pine tree cones usually grow downwards (left) whereas those of fir (right) grow upwards

Pine trees are large woody plants that are identified by their needle-like leaves, seed-bearing cones, and reddish-brown or gray bark.

One of the ways to tell pine trees apart from fir trees is by the way the needles and cones grow. If you look closely at pictures of pine needles, you will see they grow in clusters on the twigs. This is different from fir needles that are softer and are attached singularly to the branch.

Another identifying characteristic of pines is that their egg-shaped cones that hang from branches. These open to release seed or pollen and then fall off. Some types of pines can have large woody cones with scales that are long and straight. Pine cones hang down whereas fir cones tend to grow straight upward from the branches.

Types of Pine Trees (With Pictures and Names)

Let’s look in more detail at some of the most common species of pine trees in the world.

Eastern White Pine Tree (Pinus strobus)

Eastern white pine

The eastern white pine is a popular type of Christmas tree

The eastern white pine is one of the most important pine species in North America. These are fast-growing trees and one of the tallest species of pines.

The pine needles grow in small clusters and have a bluish-green appearance. On mature trees, the bark is rough and gray in color. Even though this is a huge type of tree, you can prune it to create a landscaping pine tree bush.

Eastern pines also grow well in containers and are a popular type of Christmas tree. The species has good needle retention after being cut and they emit a pleasant citrusy scent.

Pine tree identification

Eastern white pines are a tall species and grow to up to 230 ft. (70 m). Their cones are long and slender growing to 6” (16 cm). The eastern white pine has pine leaves made up of clusters of 5 pine needles.

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Sugar Pine Tree (Pinus lambertiana)

sugar pine

The sugar pine is the tallest of the pine trees

Also called the sugar cone pine, this massive tree is the tallest species of pine in the world. Sugar pines also have the longest cones of any tree in the Pinaceae family. This pine species gets its common name from the sweet resin in the tree.

The long pine needles are light green in color and have white lines running their length. Close up, you will see that the bark is reddish-brown with pronounced furrows.

Pine tree identification

Being the tallest of the pine trees, the subgenus lambertiana grows up to 270 ft. (82 m). However, their average size is between 130 and 195 ft. (40 – 60 m). Slender pine needles grow in bundles of 5 and can measure up to 4.14” (14 cm) long. The long woody dark brown cones can grow up to 20” (50 cm) long.

Red Pine Tree (Pinus resinosa)

red pine

The red pine has reddish bark on the upper part of the tree

The red pine is an evergreen conifer that is characterized by a tall straight trunk, conical shape, and egg-shaped cones. The red pine gets its name from the red-orange bark that grows on the upper part of the tree.

Looking at pictures of mature red pines, you will notice that the crown is dome-shaped. Red pine needles are long and brittle and snap easily

Pine tree identification

The red pine tree is a medium-sized pine tree that grows to between 66 and 115 ft. (20 -35 m). Red pine identification is by the needle-like leaves that grow in clusters of 2 and are yellow-green in color.

Gray Pine Tree (Pinus sabiniana)

gray pine

The Gray Pine has gray-colored needles and very large cones

The gray pine tree grows in warm climates has drooping gray-colored needle leaves that grow sparsely on branches. Also called the foothill pine or digger pine, this medium-sized pine tree grows extra-large cones. These can grow up to 13” (35 cm) and weigh as much as 1.5 lb. (0.7 kg)!

Pine tree identification

Gray pines grow to a height of 45” (14 m) with some older species growing double that height. The soft gray pine needles give the tree a drooping look and there are 3 needles per cluster.

Pitch Pine Tree (Pinus rigida)

pitch pine

Pitch pine tree is identified by its twisted branches

One of the distinguishing features of the pitch pine is its irregular shape and twisted branches. Its common name comes from the fact that its sticky resin was used for pitch in shipbuilding and railroad ties.

The long needles of the pitch pine tree give its branches a somewhat spiky look. Although pitch pines are a hardy conifer that grows in difficult environments, it is not an important timber tree. Mostly, pitch pines are used for pulp or constructing pallets.

Because of its uneven growing patterns, pitch pines are a favorite type of miniature tree among bonsai enthusiasts.

Pine tree identification

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Pitch pines are small to medium-sized trees that reach modest heights of between 20 and 98 ft. (6 – 30 m). Needles are long and stout and grow in bundles of three. Cones are long, oval, and prickly and grow up to 2.34” (7 cm).

Scots (Scotch) Pine Tree (Pinus sylvestris)

Scotch pine

Scots (Scotch) pines have bluish-green short needles

Scots pine trees are stunning evergreen conifers that have thick scaly brown bark, bluish-green needles, and small red to tan cones. Scots pines generally have a forked trunk that gives the medium-sized pine 2 flat masses of foliage.

Scots (Scotch) pines are also popular Christmas trees as they don’t shed their needles easily. Dwarf varieties of evergreen pines are also grown for their ornamental value in landscaped gardens.

Pine tree identification

Scots pine trees grow to around 114 ft. (35 m) tall with some varieties reaching 148 ft. (45 m). The trees are identified by their short needles that grow in bundles of 2, but sometimes 3 or 4.

Jack Pine Tree (Pinus banksiana)

Jack pine

Jack pines are small evergreen trees with small cones

Jack pines, similar to pitch pines, have an irregular shape, dark green needle foliage, and grow in poor soil conditions.

One of the identifying features of Jack pines is their small yellowish prickly cones that are curved at their tip. These cones open in heat or if there is a fire. The gray bark is rough and fissured.

Pine tree identification

These are small evergreen pines with some varieties not growing more than a shrub. Jack pines can range in size from 30 to 72 ft. (9 – 22 m). Their yellowish-green needles are twisted and only about 1.5” (4 cm) long.

Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)

longleaf pine

Longleaf pines have long needles and trunks

As its name suggests, the longleaf evergreen pine has long dark green needles. This species of pine is also important in the timber and pulp industry due to its long straight trunk. Longleaf pines are also classed together with shortleaf pine as they are both types of southern yellow pines.

As with many tall pine trees, most of the foliage grows at the top of the tree. Dead branches fall off as the tree grows and eventually reaches about 100 ft. (30 m) in height. Cones from the longleaf species measure about 6” to 10” (15 – 25 cm) long and are reddish-brown.

Pine tree identification

Longleaf pines grow to between 100 and 115 ft. (30 – 35 m) with the tallest being 154 ft. (47 m). These evergreen conifers are identified by their tall slender trunks and large hard cones. The long needle-like leaves grow to between 8” and 18” (20 – 45).

Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata)

shortleaf pine

Shortleaf pines have shorter needles and smaller cones than longleaf pines

The shortleaf pine is a type of yellow pine tree similar to the longleaf pine, only with shorter needle leaves. Similar to the longleaf variety, these southern pines are an important species in the timber industry.

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Shortleaf pines are distinguished from their longleaf cousins by their needles, bark, and cones. Needles grow to about 5” (12 cm) and they have tiny cones compared to the longleaf pines. These small reddish-brown cones may only measure 2” (5 cm) long. You can also tell the species apart with the dark bark in rectangular shapes on the shortleaf species.

Pine tree identification

These pine trees from the Pinus echinata species grow to between 65 and 100 ft. (20 – 30 m).

Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata)

Bristlecone pine

Bristlecone pine is a type of small pine tree

The bristlecone pine is a small pine tree with grayish-brown bark, short needle-covered branches, and yellow-tan cones in the shape of an egg.

Bristlecone pines are versatile trees that grow in a range of climates. They are common in high altitudes in the cold Rocky Mountains and also grow in the hot Arizona desert.

Needle color tends to be dark green to a green with a blue tinge. Immature cones are a deep purple color and gradually turn yellow or beige.

Pine tree identification

Species of bristlecone pines grow to between 8 and 20 ft. (2 – 6 m). Leaves are needle-like and are 1.5” (4 cm) long and have a bluish-green color.

Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda)

loblolly pined

The tall Loblolly pines are very common in south-east USA

Loblolly pines are classified with southern yellow pines and are one of the most common trees in the U.S. These pines in the lower classification of Pinus australes are tall, elegant trees with a crown of green foliage at the top of their 115-ft. (35-m) trunks.

Loblolly pines are common in the southeastern regions of the US and they grow in swampy, acidic soil. These are also a resinous pine that is prized for its high-quality softwood timber.

Pine tree identification

These majestic pines grow to between 100 and 110 ft. (30 – 35 m) and they have wide trunks up to 5 ft. (1.5 m) in diameter. Dark green needles are about 8” (20 cm) long and grow in bundles of three.

Slash pine (Pinus elliottii)

slash pine

Slash pine has long needles and is native to southeastern USA

This resinous conifer tree in the genus Pinus is a fast-growing pine that has wide, spreading foliage. Characteristics of the slash pine are long slender needles, glossy red-colored cones, and orange bark.

This pine tree species is also classed along with the yellow pines. It is another important pine tree in the timber industry. These pines can also create pine hybrids with other species that are common in the southern states of the U.S. such as the longleaf pine and loblolly pine.

Pine tree identification

Slash pines grow to between 60 and 100 ft. (18 – 30 m). Needles grow in clusters of 2 or 3 and can be as long as 10” (24 cm).

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Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana)

virginia pine

Virginia pine has short needles that are quite sharp

The Virginia pine is a medium-sized species of pine tree with short pine needles and large seed cones. During the summer, the needle foliage is deep green and this turns yellow-gold in winter.

The needles on Virginia pines are not soft and are quite sharp to touch. Despite this fact, small varieties of Virginia pines are also popular Christmas trees. They have red and brown bark that has a rough texture.

Pine tree identification

Virginia pines grow to between 18 and 60 ft. (9 – 18 m). Their needle-like leaves are just 0.78” to 3.14” (2 – 8 cm) in length and they grow in 2 needles per cluster.

Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)

lodgepole pine

In the picture: a young lodgepole pine tree

The lodgepole pine tree can grow as a short evergreen shrub or tall slender pine tree, depending on the subspecies. The taller varieties are some of the largest pine species that grow in the U.S. Lodgepole pines generally grow at high altitudes in coastal or cold mountainous areas.

One of the identifying features of lodgepole pines is their conical shape. Branches grow outwards and upwards and get shorter nearer the top. The dark green foliage turns bright yellowish-green in the wintertime.

Lodgepole pine needles are glossy and dark green. The needles grow in pairs and some varieties of pine can have up to 5 needles in a cluster. Cones are light brown and approximately 1” – 3” (3 – 7 cm) long.

Pine tree identification

Lodgepoles are narrow pines that grow to between 130 to 160 ft. (40 – 50 m) high. The pine tree foliage is characterized by short shoots and pointed needles that are 1.5” to 3” (4 – 8 cm) long.

Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)

ponderosa pine

The tall Ponderosa pine is important in the timber industry

The ponderosa pine tree is a huge evergreen conifer with unique orange-red bark and black markings. Due to its extremely long and straight trunk, this pine species is prized in the timber industry. It is also called the bull pine, wester-yellow pine, or blackjack pine.

These tall pine trees have long slender needles. The cones can be dark purple to red-brown, depending on the exact subspecies. Cones measure between 2” to 4” (5 – 10 cm) in length.

Pine tree identification

Ponderosa pines are classified as a big tree species and grow up to 235 ft. (72 m) tall. The green flexible needles grow to around 8” (20 cm) and they have 3 in each bundle growing on the shoots.

Coulter Pine (Pinus coulteri)

coulter pine

Coulter pines have long needles and large heavy cones

Another of the large species of tree in the genus Pinus is the coulter pine. These massive pine trees also have large spiny tan-colored cones, long gray-green pine needles, and reddish-brown bark.

This impressive tree also grows impressive cones and has the name the “big-cone pine tree.” In fact, the coulter pine produces the heaviest cones of any pine tree. Its pine cones can weigh between 4.4 – 11 lb. (2 – 5 kg)! This means that working near coulter pines is a definite health hazard.

The tree’s fast growth rate and size mean that its wood is of poor quality for lumber.

Pine tree identification

Coulter pines grow to between 33 and 79 ft. (20 – 40 m) tall. Needles are a dull dark green color and are 6” to 12” (15 – 30 cm) in length.

Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata)

monterey pine

Monterey pine is identified by its branches that grow upwards

The Monterey pine tree is known for its tall stature, bright green needles, and egg-shaped cones. The pine tree is characterized by upward-pointing branches that have clusters of needles to create dense foliage.

Needles have a blunt tip, grow in clusters of 3, and are long and slender.

Monterey pine trees are a medium-dense type of softwood conifer. This makes the species an important tree in the timber industry. High-quality Monterey pine wood products include flooring, fence posts, and indoor wooden structures.

Pine tree identification

In optimum conditions, Monterey pines can grow to 200 ft. (60 m). In coniferous forests, most species are between 50 and 100 ft. (15 – 30 m) tall. The pine is identified by needles that are 3” to 6” (8 – 15 cm) long and brown ovoid cones measuring 3” to 6” (8 – 15 cm).

Two-Needle Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis)

two needle pinyon pine

Pinyon Pine has short needles that grow in pairs

Also called the Colorado pinyon, this medium-sized bushy pine tree grows in hot or cold unforgiving climates. The wood from pinyon pines is also extremely strong despite it being classified as a “softwood.”

Needles on the brownish twigs grow in pairs and are described as “stout, long pine needles.” Its branches are dense with pine needles and its bushy growth can provide shade.

Smaller varieties of pinyon pines are also sold as Christmas trees.

Pine tree identification

Pinyon pines grow to between 33 and 66 ft. (10 – 20m) and they also grow as small shrub-like trees. The oval-shaped pine cones contain edible nuts and are a yellow-tan color when mature. Needles grow in pairs (hence the name, two-needle pinyon) and are short at 2” (5 cm) long.

Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis)

whitebark pine

Whitebark pine usually grows on high mountains and it has pale colored bark

Whitebark pines are usually pines that grow at the highest elevations on mountains. As its common name suggests, the bark on this pine is a whitish color rather than the typical red or charcoal-gray.

Whitebark pine trees are classified in the group of white pines. It can be difficult to distinguish between the subspecies. Needles grow in clusters of 5 and the cones are long and grow to 3” (7 cm) long.

In its native habitats in the mountain forests of North America, whitebark pines are an endangered pine species.

Pine tree identification

These tall pine trees grow to 95 ft. (29 m) high. The dark green needles are between 1.5” and 3” (4 – 7 cm).

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