Lodgepole Pine

Posted by shane - January 7, 2015 - A-Z Plant Maintenance, Trees - No Comments

Pinus contorta subsp. latifolia 

A cluster of lodgepole pines growing in a forest after a fire

A cluster of lodgepole pines growing in a forest after a fire

Lodgepole pine is among my favourite trees, mainly because I grew up among them as a kid in the woods of Northern BC.  My parents both worked for the Forest Service and I spent a lot of time wandering around log yards as a preschooler.  The smell of fresh pine sap in the spring always takes me back to the pleasant memories of childhood.  My first school consisted of a one-room schoolhouse with only 7 kids, aged kindergarten to grade 7.  My dad cut a path from our home through the pines to the school. We built tree forts and played hide-and-seek among those trees everyday.  I have been able to identify this tree by name since I was 3!

Nostalgia aside, lodgepole pines make a nice landscape tree, as they are an open conifer, allowing much more light through the crown than a spruce. My only concern with these trees is that they aren’t well-suited to grassland soil and often appear chlorotic (yellowish needles) if they don’t receive the nitrogen and micro-nutrients they need.  I recommend amending the soil with compost and organic matter, and planting the trees in a bed with a good wood chip mulch.  Pines are more suited to full sun as young trees than are spruce, and grow well with east, south, or west exposure in newer yards.  Spruce actually prefer to grow up under the filtered light of other trees.  Perhaps more of our shelterbelts and wind-breaks should be make up of pines.

Lodgepole pine is the official tree of Alberta.

Pines look great in a mixed planting with trembling aspen and birch, with an understory of wild rose and saskatoon.

Exposure

Full sun

Pruning Time

Deadwood removal or clearance pruning can be done anytime of year.

Pruning

Rarely required.  These trees are well structured and pyramidal in shape in the open landscape. I like to remove the deadwood from specimen trees.  Lodgepole pine is very low maintenance.

(c) 2015 Shane LePage, Wild Rose Garden & Tree Service Inc., Red Deer, AB