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Life History and Disturbance Response of Pinus strobus (eastern white pine)
Family: Pinaceae
Guild: opportunistic, long-lived intermediate
Functional Lifeform: large evergreen conifer
Ecological Role: grows on well-drained, coarse-textured soils; colonizes old fields and establishes under open canopies of oak, hickory and birch; eventually replaced by more shade tolerant species
Lifespan, yrs (typical/max): 200/450
Shade Tolerance: intermediate
Height, m: 30-40
Canopy Tree: yes
Pollination Agent: wind
Seeding, yrs (begins/optimal/declines): 10/50/250
Mast Frequency, yrs: 3-5
New Cohorts Source: seeds
Flowering Dates: late spring
Flowers/Cones Damaged by Frost: no
Seedfall Begins: early fall
Seed Banking: up to 1 yr
Cold Stratification Required: yes
Seed Type/Dispersal Distance/Agent: winged/ to 200 m/ wind
Season of Germination: spring
Seedling Rooting System: shallow spreading
Sprouting: does not sprout
Establishment Seedbed Preferences
Substrate: variable
Light: overstory shade
Moisture: moist required
Temperature: neutral
Disturbance response:
Fire: Eastern white pine is opportunistic with respect to fire but not fire-dependent. Eastern white pine is broadly distributed and fire regimes depend on site and associated species. Formerly, this species grew in a regime of frequent (years to decades), light surface fires with occasional severe fires at long intervals (centuries). Eastern white pine regeneration is favored where some mature trees survive and fire creates a mineral seedbed and eliminates competitors. Eastern white pine is moderately fire resistant. Needles are low in resin and not very flammable. Trees taller than 18 m survive most light surface fires, because they have thick bark, branch-free boles, and are deeply rooted. Trees survive when <50% of the crown is scorched and roots are not badly damaged. Young trees (<50 years old) are relatively fire-sensitive. Seedling establishment may occur from seeds of surviving trees onsite or from offsite seeds carried by wind. Prescribed burning has been used successfully to promote eastern white pine regeneration in stands >80 years old.
Weather: Eastern white pine is susceptible to limb and stem breakage from ice and snow storms and to windthrow in dense stands.
Air pollution: Eastern white pine is sensitive to ozone and sulphur dioxide. Symptoms of foliar injury have been noted in areas of high ambient ozone. Seedlings exhibited reduced height growth and photosynthesis under controlled fumigation with ozone. Variable response to ozone was noted among clones of eastern white pine.
Exotics: White pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) is an introduced stem rust the of 5-needle or white pine group, arriving in North America from Europe on diseased nursery stock around 1890. It causes stem and branch cankers that result in tree mortality, and has had profound ecological effects on white pine stands. Ribes (currant) plants are an alternate host, and in some cases, reducing Ribes density in white pine stands has been used successfully to manage damage to eastern white pine. Some trees are resistant to infestation.