Lodgepole pine or beach pine is a small pine that grows quickly to 20 ft. and may reach 30 ft. at maturity. It has a crooked, windswept, dense habit and dark-green needles. Mature bark is red-brown and scaly. Cones are small, numerous and slow to open. Widely distributed pine that may grow tall with narrow, dense, conical crown, or remain small with broad, rounded crown; 3 geographic varieties.
Lodgepole Pine is one of the most widely distributed New World pines and the only conifer native in both Alaska and Mexico. Its name refers to the use by American Indians of the slender trunks as poles for their conical tents or teepees. Shore Pine (var. contorta), the Pacific Coast variety, is a small tree with spreading crown, thick, furrowed bark, short leaves, and oblique cones pointing backward, opening at maturity but remaining attached. Sierra Lodgepole Pine (var. murrayana (Grev. & Balf.) Engelm.), of the Cascade Mountains of southwestern Washington and western Oregon, the Sierra Nevada of central California, and south to northern Baja California, is a tall, narrow tree with thin, scaly bark, relatively broad leaves, and symmetrical, lightweight cones opening at maturity and shedding within a few years. Lodgepole Pine or Rocky Mountain Lodgepole Pine (var. latifolia Engelm.), of the Rocky Mountain region, is a tall, narrow tree with thin, scaly bark, long needles, and cones often oblique and pointing outward. This variety is adapted to forest fires, often with cones that remain tightly closed on the trees many years until a fire destroys the forest. When the heat causes the cones to open, the seeds fall to the bare ground to begin a new forest. This variety is also able to reproduce without fire, and in some areas most of the trees release their seeds without the heat of fire.
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