|BACKYARD WHITE PINE|
|MALE CONES BURSTING WITH POLLEN|
|YOUNG FEMALE CONES|
We had a violent wind and rain storm, complete with some hail mid-afternoon yesterday, that left .6" of rain in the gage. I have a load of plants arriving at noon from Northwoods Nursery for the last planting job of the season, and it looks like we should get it done with the good weather in the next couple of days before the 4th of July holiday.
My "sneezin' season" is at its height when the white pines, Pinus strobus, release heir pollen. The pollen grains are yellow and when the wind blows the air is filled with a fine golden dust that settles on every surface. Pine trees are wind pollinated, and the male cones are produced heavily on the lower branches of the big trees, evidently designed (by God or evolution or a cooperative effort, take your pick) so that the wind wafts the pollen upwards to the higher branches, where the young female cones are waiting to receive it. At the height of pollen release huge, dusty yellow clouds can often be seen blowing across the landscape.
White pine trees are monoecious, bearing both male and female cones on the same tree. The female cones take over a year to ripen, open and release their seeds.
White pines are native to southeastern Canada and the northeastern US, further south in the eastern mountains, and west into the Great Lakes states. White pines are easily distinguished by having five needles to a cluster, and by their size, up to two hundred feet in height and their age, up to 500 years old. During the height of the logging era they were the most valuable lumber tree.
Eastern (also called northern) white pine tends to be a disjunct species, rather than a climax species, often growing up in groves after some catastrophic environmental event such as fire, tornado, etc., and unless felled by man or nature can dominate the landscape for hundreds of years.