Interesting Facts About Pine Trees

Updated on May 18, 2020
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A graduate in botany, Nithya Venkat enjoys writing about plants that help sustain life on planet Earth.

Pinus ponderosa
Pinus ponderosa | Source

Pine trees are evergreen conifers that belong to the genus Pinus in the family Pinaceae. They have a long lifespan that ranges from a hundred years to thousand years when conditions are favorable.

The evolution of Pine trees in the Northern Hemisphere has been recorded during the early Jurassic Period of the Mesozoic Era about 130 – 200 million years ago. These trees are evergreen and retain their leaves for at least two growing seasons before they are shed off.

A majority of these trees are found growing in the Northern Hemisphere except the Sumatran Pine that grows in the Southern Hemisphere. They are valued for their timber and wood pulp.

Pine trees are an important part of Christmas celebrations around the world.

Characteristics of Pine Trees

Pine trees flourish in temperate and subtropical climates. They can be found growing in altitudes of up to 13,000 feet. They grow well in sandy or well-drained soil and can live for over 400 years in favorable growth conditions. The height of pine trees ranges from 10 feet to 245 feet and above and are anchored to the ground with a well-developed tap root system.


The pine trees have thick barks that are scaly. The branches of the pine trees are arranged in whorls around the bark.

The bark of pine trees can be dark and furrowed like the white pine or divide into rectangular plates like the red pine.

Pine trees are resinous in nature. The resin in the tree protects the tree by forming a protective cap over wounds and help in the healing process. The resin also protects the pine trees from fungal infections and insects that invade the trees.

Needle-Like Leaves of a Pyramidal Eastern White Pine Tree
Needle-Like Leaves of a Pyramidal Eastern White Pine Tree | Source

Characteristics of Pine Leaves

The leaves of the pine trees are needle-shaped and are found in clusters of two to five in number along with the branches. Each cluster is bound together at the base.

A sheath is present at the base of each leaf. The leaves remain on the tree for at least two growing seasons. The pine trees can be identified by the number of needles (leaves) in each cluster.

  • White Pine has five needles per cluster and is short and shiny
  • Red Pine has two needles per cluster, and the needles are long and matte in texture
  • The remaining species have two or three needles per bundle

Adaptations of the pine tree leaf to survive winter

1. The leaves of the pine trees are needle-shaped. The needle shape helps the snow to slide off from the leaves and prevents the branches from breaking off due to the heavy weight of snow that accumulates during a snowfall.

The needle shape cuts down the surface area of the leaf and reduces the number of pores on the leaf. When the number of pores is less, the amount of water that escapes the leaf in the form of water vapor is reduced.

2. The surface of the leaf is coated with cutin. Cutin is a wax-like substance that coats the leaves to prevent water from evaporating. The waxy coating also keeps the cells of the leaf from freezing during the cold winter.

Cones of Pinus ponderosa commonly known as the Ponderosa Pine
Cones of Pinus ponderosa commonly known as the Ponderosa Pine | Source
Winged Seeds of a Pine Cone
Winged Seeds of a Pine Cone | Source

Reproduction in Pine Trees

The pine trees reproduce through cones that lodge the male or the female sex organs. Pine trees are monoecious.

The term monoecious means that a single tree will have both the male and the female sex organs. A single cone has only the male (anthers) or only the female (ovary) sex organ.

Cones are equivalent to flowers in angiosperms (flowering plants). The cone does not have sepals or petals. It is a branch that is modified to house the male or the female sex organs.

The seeds are winged and dispersed by wind and animals who consume these seeds.

Pine cones used for decorations
Pine cones used for decorations | Source

Roots of Pine trees

Roots of the pine trees start with a primary root that branch out into secondary roots and tertiary roots, also known as root hairs. The roots usually grow down to a level where oxygen and water are limited. Further growth of the roots depends upon the availability of both water and oxygen at that level.

When the soil is extremely wet, the roots may recede. When the soil dries, there is more space for oxygen in the soil and during this time, the roots resume their growth to a deeper level. Most pine roots extend down to about three feet, but they can grow beyond three feet when the texture of the soil is sandy and dry.

In pine trees, the absorption of nutrients takes place in association with a root fungus called “mycorrhiza.” The mycorrhizae grow into the soil from the roots and help in the efficient absorption of water and nutrients. In turn, the mycorrhizae absorb the sugars produced by the pine trees. The pine mycorrhizae are ectropic, meaning that they form a sheath over the root surface.

Uses of Pine Trees

1. The wood of pine trees is used in the manufacture of paneling, window frames, floors, roofing, furniture. Pine plantations are grown specially to harvest timber. Pine plantations can be harvested after thirty years for timber. The value of the harvested wood increases as the age of the pine trees increase.

2. Some species of Pine have large pine seeds (pine nuts). Pinus sibirica, Pinus koraiensis, Pinus pinea, Pinus gerardiana, Pinus monophylla, Pinus edulis are some of the pine trees from which pine nuts are harvested. These pine nuts are used for cooking and baking purposes.

3. Pine trees are rich in a resin called High-Terpene resin. The High-Terpene resin is distilled to get turpentine.

Turpentine is used in the manufacture of varnish and as a solvent. Today Turpentine oil is mainly used as processed synthetic pine oil that is used to make fragrances and to lend fragrance to cleaning agents. Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis), Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda), Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa), Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris) are some of the pine trees that yield turpentine.

4. The Scotch pine, Austrian pine, and Monterey pine trees are used as windbreaks, for reforestation, and as ornamental trees.

5. Pine trees are planted in gardens and parks as ornamental plants. They are grown and harvested in large numbers as Christmas trees.

6. Pine cones are hard and durable. These cones are used for craft purposes.

7. Pine trees are homes to squirrels, birds, raccoons and many other animals of the forest.

Impact of Pine Trees on Climate Change

The gases that escape the pine tree leaves in the form of vapor carry the strong scent of pine oil that is a volatile organic compound.

According to the research published in the Nature Journal, the vapor that escapes the leaves of the pine trees have a direct affect on the changing climate.

The tiny particles of vapor that escape the pine tree leaves are converted into aerosols when they react with oxygen present in the air.

The aerosols join together forming clouds that block the sunlight and reflect the rays back into space, thereby helping to reduce the rise in the atmospheric temperature and simultaneously slowing down global warming.


" The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. 22 Apr. 2016<>.

Questions & Answers

  • What happens in the spring to a pine tree?

    In spring the pine tree enters the “candle phase” during which the pines shoots grow rapidly that results in shoot extension before needle expansion begins.

© 2016 Nithya Venkat


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    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 months ago from Dubai

      Yes, Louise Powles. The pine trees smell great and look beautiful.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      5 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I do like pine trees. I think they smell so nice, they look beautiful too.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 years ago from Dubai

      Thank you Peggy Pine trees are a delight. Yes you are so right we need a lot of trees to replenish oxygen and to save Earth.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Pine trees grow well in most of North America and I love them. Often I have made use of pine cones in decorating. The smell of walking in a forest with many pine trees is a delight. We need many pine trees as well as other types of trees to provide oxygen into our atmosphere and reduce the effects of global warming. Nice article!

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      3 years ago from Dubai

      ladyguitarpicker thank you.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Pines are everywhere in Florida, I like them because of the smell and they are pretty. Great Hub, and I learned something new.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      3 years ago from Dubai

      Jackie thank you and yes they do make great decoration pieces and smell so good. Pine trees are nature's gift to us.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      3 years ago from the beautiful south

      Sorry I missed this. I love pines of every kind and I have certainly made use of the cones my whole life. Free for the taking, smell so good and can make such beautiful ornaments and centerpieces at Christmas time. Great article.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      3 years ago from Dubai

      rajan jolly pine trees are good wind breakers. Thank you for your visit.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      I am reminded of the Casurina pine trees that we had grown as windbreakers on our farm long time back. And the scent of pine is just divine.

      I love eating pine nuts.

      Great information.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Chitrangada Sharan thank you for your visit and comment.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is so interesting and informative hub about Pine trees!

      I love Pine trees --and they make me feel romantic at heart--I don't know why!

      Honestly I didn't know so many details of Pine trees. To read about their impact on climate change and their adaptation to survive winters is really interesting!

      Thanks for the education!

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Audrey Howitt growing up with Pine trees in your neighbourhood must have been awesome, thank you for your visit.

      Shyron E Shenko thank you for your visit and yes some people do not know about pine nuts and their nutritional value.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Nithya, the pine is one of my favorite trees and I love trees. I think that most people don't know about the pine nuts. I love them, but don't buy them often because of the cost.

      Blessings and hugs

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      4 years ago from California

      Beautiful hub! I grew up with these wonderful trees and love them

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      aviannovice it must be great to live in such a place. Thank you for your visit.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Nice article. I grew up with assorted conifers such as these. Now that I am in the land of red cedars and loblolly pines and such, I get to look at them more, and learn about the fruit that they produce. So many fall migratory birds enjoy the fruit produced, which gives me a lot of photo opportunities.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      DDE thank you, pine trees are great.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Pine trees are beautiful and you share important facts about this unique tree.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      annart thank you and yes I do agree with you, they look great in their natural habitat.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      4 years ago from SW England

      Another interesting 'facts about...' hub. Pine trees can be impressive but I don't like seeing them all in a line; in their natural habitat they are beautiful.


    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      AliciaC you are so right there is so much more to learn and so much that we do not know. Thank you for your visit.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing all the facts. I think that pine trees are one of the most interesting types of trees. I always enjoy examining them and learning more about them.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Faith Reaper thank you and it must be wonderful to live in a place surrounded by pine trees.

      swalia thank you and am glad you came to know more through this hub.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      4 years ago from India

      Very interesting hub! Many facts were unknown to me. Thanks for sharing!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      I love pine trees too, and grew up surrounded by them and still live where they are all around. That is interesting about climate change.

      Very interesting hub.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      whounwho thank you for your visit.

      Harishprasad I am glad you came to know more through this hub.

      always exploring, pine cones are great for decorations and last for a long long time, thank you for your visit.

      MsDora thank you for your visit and comment. Pine trees are amazing.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Informative and interesting. The reproductive system is amazing. Thanks especially for revealing how the pine affects climate change.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This was interesting. I love pine trees. I used to collect the cones when I was a kid. They make nice Christmas decorations.

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 

      4 years ago from New Delhi , India

      Very interesting facts about pine trees. I've seen pines in the hills very closely, but was not aware of these things about them.

    • whonunuwho profile image


      4 years ago from United States

      Interesting info on one of my favorite trees. Thanks for sharing. whonu

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Ericdierker thank you for your visit.

      billybuc thank you. there is always something new coming up with ongoing researches.

      FlourishAnyway thank you, that would be great.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      It's interesting to know about pine trees' impact on climate change. I will plant a few.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I live in the "Evergreen State" so we know all about firs and pines...and yet you managed to surprise me with some facts I did not know. I love articles like this one...thank you!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very cool. Thank you.


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