Pinus resinosa / red pine

subgenus Pinus, section, Pinus, subsection Pinus. This is one of the “classic” old-world, 2-needled, hard pines.

Pinus resinosa, as described in 1789 by William Aiton (1731–1793), in Hortus Kewensis, vol. 3:367, is commonly known as red pine, Norway pine or pin rouge in the French-Canadian language. It is the state tree of Minnesota and was called "Norway pine" for the homeland of the men who logged it there.

Ethnobotany. It was once the most important timber pine in the Great Lakes region


Description. Red pine is an evergreen coniferous species of tree which grows to mature heights of 120 feet (37 m) with a straight trunk up to 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter, measured at breast height; and a narrowly rounded crown.

  • Bark is light red-brown incolor, furrowed and cross-checked into irregularly rectangular, scaly plates.
  • Branches grow spreading and ascending.
  • Twigs are moderately slender at 0.4 inch (1 cm) thick, colored orange- to red-brown in color at first, aging darker brown with a rough texture.
  • Foliar buds are ovoid-acuminate in shape, red-brown in color, and up to 0.8 inch (2 cm) long. They are resinous with fringed scale margins.
  • Leaves (needles) grow in bundles of 2 per fascicle. Each is straight to slightly twisted, measuring 4.8 to 7.2 inches (12 - 18 cm) long and quite brittle, breaking cleanly when bent. They are deep yellow-green in color with narrow bands of stomata on all surfaces.
  • Pollen cones are ellipsoid in shape, dark purple in color and circa 0.6 inch (15mm) in length.
  • Seed cones mature and open 2 years after pollination. They are spreading, symmetrically ovoid before opening, broadly ovoid to nearly globose when open, light red-brown in color and measuring 1.5 to 2.5 inches (3.5 - 6 cm) long.
natural range of <em>Pinus resinosa </em>
natural range of Pinus resinosa

Distribution. This species is native to Canada — Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland; and USA — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. It naturally occurs naturally on sandy soils at elevations of 650 to 4,200 feet (200 - 1,300 m) above sea level, chiefly in boreal forests.

Hardy to USDA Zone 3 — cold hardiness limit between -40° and -30°F (-39.9° and -34.4°C).

Attribution from: Kral, R. 1993. Pinus. Flora of North America Editorial Committee (eds.): Flora of North America North of Mexico, Vol. 2. Oxford University Press.

Pinus resinosa
Photo by Public domain, via Wikipedia Commons
Pinus resinosa — a closeup of pollen cones in spring.
Photo by Dennis Fernkes, Edina, Minnesota
Pinus resinosa — a closeup of its distinctive red bark.
Photo by Karren Wcisel courtesy of
Pinus resinosa — an old tree at at Itasca State Park in Minnesota.
Photo by Public Domain photo via Wikipedia
Pinus resinosa — foliage and seed cones detail.
Photo by Keith Kanoti, Maine Forest Service, USA



“This is one of the 'classic' old-world, 2-needled, hard pines.”

Are Canada, the USA, and the Great Lakes area now a part of the old-world?

Thomas Neel

Was Pinus Ponderosa originally called "Red Pine" because of its resemblance to this tree species?

Dan Westerfer

I bought a old stone house in Philadelphia. I had the floors refinished and the man who did the work told me that the house was red pine wall to wall. He told me that in the 1920 the wood was getting scarce. Do you have a timeline for the history of red pine usage?