Page author: Ben Legler
Pinus contorta
Female cone with spine-tipped scales. The cones remain on the tree for several years before falling.
WTU specimens
Other herbaria

Distribution: Alaska south into Oregon, east to Alberta and South Dakota, and in the Rocky Mountain states

Habitat: Dry montane forests, rocky balds, coastal bluffs and sand dunes, and sphagnum bogs.

Cones: April - June

Origin: Native

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Small tree 10-30 meters tall; crown rounded and billowy to narrow and straight.


Thin, to 2-2.5 cm thick; reddish brown to gray or black, furrowed or scaly.


Needle-like, 3-6 cm long, in fascicles (groups) of 2 born alternately along stem.


Female cones 3-6 cm long, scales with sharply pointed tip; male pollen cones to 1 cm long, reddish-green.

Identification Notes:

The only pine in our area with normally 2 needles per fascicle; cones are spine-tipped. Pinus albicaulis can look similar in appearance, but has 5 needles per fascicle, cone scales without spiny tips, and grows at high elevations.

Accepted Name:
Pinus contorta Douglas ex Loudon
Publication: Arbor. Frutic. Brit. 4: 2292, figs. 2210, 2211. 1838.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
(none provided)
var. contorta    Coastal from Alaska to Mendocino County, California
var. latifolia    Alaska south into Oregon, east to Alberta and South Dakota, and in the Rocky Mountain states, but not on the coast
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Pinus contorta in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Pinus contorta checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Pinus contorta atlas page.

CalPhotos: Pinus contorta photos.

USDA Plants: Pinus contorta information.

52 photographs:
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