Red Pine

The red pine (Pinus resinosa) is a native of the Lake states and eastward throughout New England and southeastern Canada. It had not been planted widely in Iowa until the 1930's. Since then it has been planted quite widely for both erosion control and water conservation, and some for farmstead windbreaks. When growing under natural conditions, the red pine reaches a height of 90 to 100 feet and a diameter of 30 to 40 inches, with a tall, straight, clean trunk and an open, rounded picturesque crown. The tree gets its name from the bright orange-colored or reddish bark, which divides into large plates as the tree matures.

red pine trees
Red Pine Trees - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

Hardiness: Zones 3 through 7

Growth Rate: Slow

Mature Shape: Symmetrically oval crown

Height: 40-80 feet

Width: 15-30 feet

Site Requirements: Full sun adaptable to soil and moisture conditions

Flowering Dates: April - June

Seed Dispersal Dates: October - November

Seed Bearing Age: 20-25 years

Seed Bearing Frequency: Every 3 to 7 years

Seed Stratification: No stratification period is needed.

Red pine needles are 4 to 6 inches long and in bundles of two. The dark green needles are soft and flexible. When bent sharply they snap or break cleanly rather than just folding over as do the needles of other pines. The cone is egg-shaped; 2 to 2-1/4 inches long. The cone scales are smooth and without spines. The seeds are eaten by songbirds and small animals.

small, purple red pine flowers
Red Pine Flowers - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

red pine needles
Red Pine Leaves - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University

red pine cone
Red Pine Fruit - Photo by Paul Wray, Iowa State University