Jack Pine, Pinus banksiana

Jack pine (Pinus banksiana) has a native range in Canada, east of the Rocky Mountains to Nova Scotia. Jack pine can also be found in the United States from Minnesota to Maine with northwest Indiana and northwest Pennsylvania being the furthest south in the growing range.

The Jack pine is a short pine growing to heights of 30-72 feet. The trees will grow crooked much like the pitch pine especially in poor soil conditions. The jack pine can be found growing in pure stands when grown in sandy/rocky soil. The jack pine will regenerate several years following a wild fire.

The bark of the jack pine is reddish brown when young maturing to a dark brown. The needles grow twisted in bundles of two measuring 0.79-1.6 inches long and are medium to yellow green in color. The female cones are reddish brown while the male cones are tan with both turning brownish gray when mature. The cones measure 1.5 – 2 inches long and has a sharp prickle on the tips of the scales. The cones remain closed until exposed to extreme heat and then open to release the seeds.

The understory of the jack pine is the right condition for growing blueberries due to the acidic soil produced by the falling needles. The Kirtland’s Warbler calls this tree home in Michigan where the tree grows in pure stands.

The Jack pine is used as a windbreak or soil erosion prevention. The wood is used as lumber, poles, firewood, and wood pulp. The pitch is used as an antibiotic to treat bronchitis, skin diseases, and wounds.

The jack pine is susceptible to sweet fern blister rust, scleroderris canker as well as infestations of white pine weevil, the jack pine sawfly, and jack pine budworm. Trees left untreated will eventually die.

Image Caption: Jack pine forest (Pinus banksiana). Credit: mricon/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)