Pinus monticola or western white pine, is a medium sized (40 meters plus) with a distinct symmetry. In youth, the bark is a dark grey with a cinnamon brown underneath the outer layers. The bark is smooth, though can become dark and scaly with age. Resin blisters are also a common feature of the bark. The blue-green, needle-like leaves are borne in fascicles of five reaching 10 to 25 cm in length. The male cones are yellow in color and reach to 1 cm in length. The female cones are slender, cylindrical, 10 to 25 cm long, red-brown in color and woody in texture.
The typical habitat ranges from mesic valleys to moderately open, dry slopes of sea level to subalpine elevations. In the Rocky Mountains, occurance has been noted up to 6000 feet. The geographic distribution moves southward from British Columbia, into the Olympic and Cascade mountains, to California and east to Idaho and western Montana.
Historically, native peoples of the Pacific Northwest used P. monticola medicinally to treat stomach disorders, blood purification, coughs, and wounds. It was also chewed like a gum for female fertility, being fabled to soley cause pregnancy. Outside of medicinal practices, many parts of the tree were used in everyday life.The pitch was useful for waterproofing and cleaning. The bark was used in baketry and canoe construction.
White pine blister rust is a fungal pathogen that was introduced into British Columbia from France in 1910, and has severly impacted the species distribution. By 1922, the fungus was well established throughout the region. Though all young trees are not capable of withstanding the effects of the fungus, there are natural resistances present with the populations. Making breeding and selection programs for stand restoration an option. A particular difficulty for a breeding program for white pine blister rust is the five spore stages of the fungus that require two host species to survive, Pinus monticola and a Ribes species.
Hitchcock, C.L. and A. Cronquist (1994) Flora of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington Press, Seattle and London.
Kozloff, E.N. (1976) Plants and Animals of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press, Seattle and London.
Pojar, J. and A. McKinnon (1994) Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Lone Pine Publishing, Washington, Canada.