Pinus contorta : Lodgepole Pine


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Coniferae (cone bearing)

Family: Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Genera: Pinus (Pine)

Species: contorta (Lat. contorte=intricately)

English Name(s):

Lodgepole Pine,

First Nation Names:



  • Tree, 10-30 meters tall.


  • Long, up to 7 cm. Arise in pairs. Needle like.

Reproductive Parts:

  • Female Cones 3-5 cm long, egg-shaped, usually curved or lopsided, very hard, with sharp prickle at tip, persist on the tree for many years.
  • Male Cones small, reddish to yellow, in clusters on tips of branches.


    Not to Be Confused With:

    • P. contorta is the only species where the needles (leaves) grow in pairs and are longer than the needles (leaves) of other species in our area.



    • Pinus banksiana and P.contorta are closely related and will hybridize where thier ranges overlap.
    • Cones will open up from the heat from forest fires. Releasing the seeds on fresh burned ground allows them to colonize burned areas quickly.

    Life Cycle:

    • Perennial
    • Cones will persist on the tree for many years.
    • Fire helps in the releasing of the seeds and the start of the next generation.

    Seasonal Cycle:

    • Evergreen.
    • Male cones release pollin in spring then fall off the tree.


    Animal Uses:


      • Tolerant of low-nutrient soils, sandy soils, and dry sites.




      • Are harvested commercially for lumber and paper pulp.
      • The long straight trunks of these tree make good wood for poles, cabin logs, posts, et cetera.



        • Caution: Pine tea should be taken in moderation and pregnant women should avoid it.
        • In spring handful of young branchlets steeped in hot water for 5 minutes makes a nice tea.
        • Pine leaves (needles) are high in vitiman C.
        • The inner bark is high in starches and sugars. It can be eaten raw but is difficult to digest unless cooked. Usually it is boiled in stews and soups. It can also be dried and ground to flour.
        • While the seeds of all Pinus (Pine) species, including Lodgepole Pine, are nutritious the harvest of Lodgepole Pine seeds is impractical due to small size and hard cones.

        Traditional Gwich'in:





                Traditional Other:



                  • The Cree used pine wood for canoe frames.
                  • The name 'Lodgepole' Pine comes from the used of them for tipis.
                  • The pitch was sometimes used as a glue for small items and for waterproofing moccasins.


                  • A tea made from pine pitch and Juniperus communis (Common Juniper) berries was considered a good remedy for a cold or flu.
                  • European settlers would disolve the pitch in alchohol and use as a wash for scalds, burns, inflamed or itchy skin.
                  • Heated pitch was plastered over sore muscles, painful arthritic joints, swellings, insect bites, itching skin boils and ulcers.
                  • Lumps of hardened pitch were chewed as a breath freshener or to relieve sore throats.
                  • The bark of young trees was simmered and applied to burns and scalds to relieve inflamation and prevent infection.
                  • The Cree put pine pitch in hollow teeth to relieve the aching.
                  • The hardened sap has been ground to a powder and applied to sore throats with a swab.
                  • The inner bark was ground and hammered to a paste and applied to ulcers, carbuncles, wounds and sores.
                  • The pitch has been taken internally to stimulate menstral flow, to treat kidney problems, tuberculosis, and sore throats.



                    Long needles (leaves) in pairs.

                    Old tree with atypical rounded crown (top).

                    Seed bearing (female) cones.

                    Young trees in typical pyramid form.

                    Illustration from: Illustrated Flora of BC

                    Range Maps

                    World Range: Western North America, cordilleran, from northern CA to central YT.

                    Prov/State Abrev. List

                    In Yukon: Norh to about 64 degrees with occasional trees found along highways up km73 Dempster Highway.

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