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Lodgepole Pine
Lodgepole Pine19 locationsPlant
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Jul 3 2010
Kearsarge Lakes Trail to Charlotte
Featured Detail Photo mini map Featured Full Photo.: pickelltree :.
Oct 19 2008
Heart Lake and Two Ocean Plateau
Coniferophyta - Conifer
FamilyPinaceae - Pine
Prime BloomUnknown
BloomsUnknown - Unknown
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Pinus contorta

Common Names: Lodgepole Pine, Shore or Beach Pine

Habitat: There are several varieties, and provincial location determines habitat. The Rocky Mountain variety,P. contorta var. latifolia grows at high elevation, and on a variety of soils. The coastal variety, P. contorta var. contorta grows at low elevations below 2000 feet, the Sierra Nevada variety, P. contorta var. murrayana grows at high elevations, frequently around the Sierra Crest and on dry, often poorly weathered soils. Lodgepole Pine is not native to Arizona or New Mexico; it is not found in those states unless planted.

Flowers: Small indistinct yellow pollen strobili.

Description: Lodgepole is most easily recognized by it's short leaves (1 to 2 inches)in bundles of two, always in bundles of two. Cones are small, 1 to 3 inches long and less than 3/4 inch in diameter when closed. Form varies with variety. Rocky Mountain variety has serotinous cones (literally meaning late) which typically open after a fire's heat has released a resin plug which allows the cone to open and release it's seed. Other variety's cones open at maturity. Bark is smooth when young and becomes scaly as it matures. This species does not develop the thick bark of other pines which occur close to it's range.

Comments: Precipitation is usually from snow, however in Colorado it also has a summer monsoon rain component. In these locations, it occurs in the drier center of the state and often forms a relatively narrow band of forest cover between high elevation sage dominated steppe and a much thinner band of alpine spruce and fir. This can be seen in the Upper Arkansas River Basin around Leadville and on such hikes as Mount Elbert's East Ridge. Because of it's serotinous cones, the Rocky Mountain variety commonly reproduces in dense even aged stands that live for 50 to 250+ years before fire regenerates the stand or succession occurs and different species begin to dominate the stand. In these stands, the trees are typically tall and straight, having a relatively small crown with a collection of small dead branches extending to near the ground. Heights up to 80 feet. Stem diameter at chest height is usually less than 2 feet.

In the Sierra Nevada, it grows at higher elevations and in uneven aged stands. It tolerates drier conditions than Jeffrey Pine, and hotter conditions than Foxtail Pine. Cones open freely, and trees grow with larger crowns. It grows in more open stands than the Rocky Mountain variety, and under normal forest conditions large live limbs may extend to near the ground. Good examples of this can be seen around the Sonora Pass on CA 108, east of US 395 around June Mountain and the Jeffrey Pines on the volcanic table lands, and south of the Horseshoe Meadows area in the northern extent of the Kern Plateau region. Grows up to 80 feet and may have diameters between 2 and 3 feet.
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