What Is the State Tree of Idaho?

S. Reynolds

The Western White Pine, also known by its species name Pinus Monticola, was officially designated as the state tree of Idaho in 1935. Belonging to the pine family, the tree grows needles and produces pine cones. It is considered a valuable timber commodity, as it produces more biomass than other similar trees, and its wood is commonly used for construction purposes. The "Idaho pine," as it is commonly called, tends to grow in mountainous regions in the United States and Canada. In general, it is quite large and can grow up to 230 feet (about 70 meters) tall.

The Western White Pine is the official state tree of Idaho.
The Western White Pine is the official state tree of Idaho.

Since the state tree of Idaho is in the pine family, it has needles — which also are sometimes called leaves — that grow in bundles of five. Each needle can grow up to 5 inches (about 13 cm) long. The seeds of the tree are tiny, only about 0.16 to 0.27 inches (4 to 7 mm) long with long, thin wings.

Pine cones are the "fruit" that grows on this tree. There are male and female cones — the male cones are yellow in color and small, while the female cones are much larger and greenish-pink. The female cones also tend to be more round in shape, whereas the male cones are more cylindrical.

The branches of the Western White Pine typically don't sprout until two-thirds the way up the tree's trunk, making it a popular commercial option for harvesting wood. The wood from the tree is easy to work with and can be used for many construction purposes, such as shelving or door frames. It also is commonly used in carving and its consistent texture makes it especially appropriate for furniture making.

The state tree of Idaho is prone to a number of diseases. One such decimating disease is white pine blister rust, which is a fungus that was brought over from Europe at the turn of the 20th century. Almost all of the Western White Pine trees in the Cascade Mountains have been decimated by this fungus. To combat the fungus, wild strains of the pine have been bred to be rust resistant, and some success has been realized in creating genetic resistance.

The Eastern White Pine is a close relative of the state tree of Idaho. It differs from the Western White Pine in that it has bigger pine cones with long-living needles that stay on the tree for about two to three years. Like the Idaho pine, the Eastern White Pine is used for Christmas décor and is heavily logged.

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