Jack Pine

Pinus banksiana
Pinaceae (pines)

A small- to medium-sized pine tree with a scrubby, irregular growth habit.

Leaves needles, ¾–1½ inches long, in bundles of two; stiff, twisted and dull dark green.

Bark thin, reddish-brown to dark gray, breaking into scaly plates.

Twigs orangish-brown to reddish-brown, often with a white waxy coating; turning gray to reddish brown with age.

Conifers do not technically "flower"; pollen is shed March–May.

Fruits cones, 1¼–2 inches long; tan, light brown or yellow-brown; narrowly ovoid; curved or arched; scales not shiny, mostly without spines but sometimes with a small, curved spine near the tip. Cones usually remain closed on the tree for many years.

Height: to about 60 feet; spread: 30 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
In Missouri, jack pine is most commonly seen in landscape plantings as an ornamental or planted as a windbreak. It is native to forests of the northeastern United States and Canada, where it is an important source of pulpwood and lumber. It grows farther north than any other American pine and survives in surprisingly bleak environments. It is useful for wildlife habitat and windbreak plantings. The tree often develops a ragged appearance.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide. It is most likely to thrive north of Missouri River, although it can reproduce statewide.
Human connections: 
Many thoughtful people contend that humans need to have trees around them, to be healthy and happy. Jack pine, with its scrubby growth form, evokes more of "wildness" than other, more symmetrical pines. Jack pine is also planted to create windbreaks and to prevent erosion.
Ecosystem connections: 
When trees like jack pine are planted in urban and suburban areas, they provide valuable cover for wildlife, particularly birds. In its native habitat, the cones of jack pine often remain tightly closed at maturity for several years, until fire stimulates the release of seeds.
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