Idaho is a state with various landscapes and corresponding differences in flora. The state is home to more than 20 different types of trees, including hardwoods, softwoods, evergreens, and deciduous trees.
Pine trees are large coniferous trees, most of which have needle-like foliage which grows in groups of 2,5, or 7, and a sturdy wood that has many uses. The bark is often scaly and thick, and trees bear both male and female cones.
Before choosing the perfect evergreen tree for your ID yard, make sure to check the hardiness map of Idaho to ensure you get the pine trees most suited to your area.
5 Fantastic Pine Trees that Grow Well in Idaho
1. Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa)
The Ponderosa Pine is found on drier sites at middle to low elevations in the state of ID, often in single species stands. It’s a large stately pine that can be found planted in parks and public spaces.
The needles are bright green whilst the bark is brownish black. The bark is fire resistant, meaning the Ponderosa Pine can survive wildfires when other species have been burnt.
The wood of the Ponderosa Pine is whitish/yellow and aromatic and is often used for interior trimmings.
Other Common Names: Yellow Pine, Western Pine, White Pine, Bull Pine, Black Jack Pine, Western Red Pine, Western Pitch Pine, Western Longleaf Pine
Growing Zones: 3-7
Average Size at Maturity: 60-100 ft tall and 25-30 ft wide
Flowering Season: May
2. Western White Pine (Pinus monticola)
The Western White Pine features a straight and narrowly conical crown that becomes flat and broad with age. It’s part of the soft pine family, which usually have needles in bundles (fascicles) of 5, as opposed to hard pines which have them in groups of 2 or 3.
The bark is grey thin and smooth, becoming furrowed into hexagonal or rectangular plates with age. The branches are ascending and the needles are held in bunches of 5. Monticola means mountain dweller in Latin.
Western White Pines are fast growing in youth, capable of growing 1 ½ – 2 ft a year. In ID the majority can be found in areas formerly disturbed by logging. They typically grow in moist valleys or in dry exposed areas. The cones feature scales with no prickle, but have spots of white resin.
Other Common Names: Mountain White Pine, Idaho White Pine, Silver Pine
Growing Zones: 4-8
Average Size at Maturity: 70-100 ft tall and 25-30 ft wide
Flowering Season: Spring
3. Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta)
The Lodgepole Pine is a hardy and adaptable tree capable of growing in boggy soils as well is a dry sandy areas. It’s often one of the first trees to reinhabit an area after a wildfire.
This is because the seeds are protected by pitch which require the heat of fire to open the cones and release the seeds. In the wild, Lodgepole Pines can only exist in groups of trees known as dog-hair stands.
The leaves occur in bunches of two and are twisted spirally with a pointed tip. The cones vary in size and shape, between cylindrical and short to egg-shaped.
Other Common Names: Shore Pine, Twisted Pine, Contorta Pine
Growing Zones: 6-8
Average Size at Maturity: 20-35 ft tall and wide
Flowering Season: Spring
4. White Bark Pine (Pinus albicaulis)
The White Bark Pine is a subalpine tree with a varying form; it can be a small tree with a broad spreading crown or a twisted wide-spreading shrub with gnarled branches if subjected to strong winds.
The leaves appear in bunches of 5 are bluish green and usually curve upwards, and are clustered at the edges of the branches.
The cones are egg-shaped to round. They remain shut until they fall to the ground and begin to decay. The bark is smooth with older specimens becoming brown and forming large scaly plates. The white bark pine can be found in averagely moist to dry sites.
Other Common Names: Whitebark Pine, White Pine, Pitch Pine, Scrub Pine, Creeping Pine
Growing Zones: 2-8
Average Size at Maturity: 40-60 ft tall and 10-20 ft wide
Flowering Season: May – June
5. Pinyon Pine (Pinus monophylla)
The Pinyon Pine can be found in parts of southern Idaho in arid landscape on slopes. It’s a small tree that’s extremely water efficient surviving on 15 inches or less of rain a year. The needles are yellow green, 2” long and remain on the tree for about 8 or 9 years. The cones are small and contain edible nuts inside.
The Pinyon pine is a slow growing tree. If you’re after a fast-growing tree for your home landscape then there are plenty of other options for you to choose from. Pinyon Pine’s are capable of living to at least 600 years. They grow best in dry areas in sandy soils away from standing water.
Other Common Names: Single Leaf Pinyon Pine, One Leaved Pine
Growing Zones: 6-8
Average Size at Maturity: 15-30 ft tall and 15-20 ft wide
Flowering Season: April
Pine trees are coniferous evergreen trees native to northern temperate parts of the world, although they can now be found around the globe. Pines are the most widely spread genus of North American trees.
They are extremely adaptable trees and can be found in a diverse range of areas and have a multitude of uses. With so many types of pine trees, you can admire them in the wild in ID or consider planting one in your garden or yard.
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Thomas worked for a number of years as the head of plant propagation for a horticultural contractor taking care of many different species of ornamental trees & shrubs. He learned how to propagate certain endangered endemic species and has a love of permaculture, sustainability and conscious living. When Thomas isn’t hiking in nature he can be found playing music, reading a book, or eating fruit under a tree.