Pinus flexilis
(Limber Pine)
[James]

Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinatae
Family: Pinaceae
Family Description: Pine
Key Characteristics:
 
needles
cones
seeds
  • in bunches of 5, 2.5 inches long, clustered near branch ends, dark green, stout, rigid, stomatiferous on all surfaces.
  • average about 5 inches long, cylindrical, the resinous scales thickened and slightly reflexed at their apices (no prickles).
  • up to 1.3 cm long, dark brown, and reddish-brown-black mottled with a short (2mm) wing.

General Description:
Tree 15-20 m tall, with short, stout trunk 1-2 m diameter, with thin whitish bark which later becomes much-cracked; leaves stout, slightly curved, 3.5-7 cm long, Crowded at the ends of the branches; cones light brown, tinged with purple; seeds compressed, 10-12 mm long, the wings usually persistent on the scales after the seeds fall. Mts. of Alta. to B. C., south to Tex. and Calif.

Distribution:
Southeastern British Columbia east to Alberta southward through North and South Dakota through Montana, Idaho to New Mexico west to Nevada, California, north to southeastern Oregon.

Habitat:
Dry, rocky ridges, windy bluffs and mountain tops up to 11,500 feet in elevation

Other:
Limber Pine may grow in pure stands or be associated with Mountain Hemlock, Whitebark Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Douglas fir, White Fir and sometimes with Engelmann Spruce. It can grow on most soil types and is usually slow growing. Its life span is can be up to 300 years, but it is intolerant of fire. Its many branches may droop and touch the ground. In some areas such as the Pahsimeroi Valley its trunk has a twisted appearance. It has a stout taproot and thus can grow on windswept ridges. In appearance, it is difficult to distinguish from White Bark Pine, but the cones are much longer than those of White Bark Pine.
The large seeds are an important food source for birds and rodents and sometimes for Homo sapiens. The wood is light, soft, close-grained and pale yellow. Its use is for boxes, railroad ties, poles and mine timbers. It also is used for firewood.

Important State References:
No information available at this time
Photos & information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002