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Pinus banksiana (Jack pine)
Smith, R.W.

Pinus banksiana

Pinus banksiana Lamb.

Jack Pine, Gray Pine, Scrub Pine

Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Synonym(s): Pinus divaricata

USDA Symbol: PIBA2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

An irregular, conical to flat-topped evergreen, 50-75 ft. tall. Short, stiff, olive-green needles grow in pairs from the rough, scaly twigs. Open-crowned tree with spreading branches and very short needles; sometimes a shrub. Variable-shaped cones remain closed until exposed to fire.

Jack Pine is a pioneer after fires and logging, although it is damaged or killed by fires. The cones usually remain closed for many years until opened by heat of fires or exposure after cutting. The northernmost New World pine, it extends beyond 65-degrees northern latitude in Mackenzie and nearly to the limit of trees eastward. Kirtland's warbler is dependent upon Jack Pine; this rare bird breeds only in north-central Michigan, where it is confined to dense stands of young pines following forest fires.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Fascicled
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Up to about 75 feet.
Leaf: Yellow-Green
Fruit: Brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: IL , IN , MA , ME , MI , MN , ND , NH , NY , OH , PA , RI , VT , WI , WV
Canada: AB , MB , NB , NL , NS , NT , ON , PE , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: N.S. & ME to n. N.Y., n.e. IN, n. IL, WI & MN northward
Native Habitat: Sterile, sandy, conifer woods

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Sandy, acid sands.
Conditions Comments: Jack pine can grow farther north than any other pine. It is susceptible to rusts, insects and windthrow, and is intolerant of wet or alkaline soils, shade and heat. The fast-growing tree matures in 60 years. It is not extremely ornamental but grows in soils too poor for most plants. Susceptible to the disease dwarf mistletoe, which attacks the tree and produces thick witches brooms"".


Use Wildlife: Useful to songbirds, game birds, and many mammals.
Use Other: Jack pines are useful in naturalization on poor soils. They make interesting specimen trees where a twisted gnarled appearance is wanted. (Williams)

Jack pines are the only known nesting sites for Kirtland's warbler, an endangered species. However the stands must be pure Jack pine of at least 60 ha in size (Farrar)"
Attracts: Birds


Description: Seeds have no dormancy, or only a slight one, and will germinate immediately upon collection after a light stratification.
Seed Collection: Collect ripe cones, soak in hot water overnight, and leave on a sunny windowsill to open.
Seed Treatment: Pretreatment is usually not necessary, but germination of pine seeds exhibiting dormancy can be hastened by cold stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Pinus banksiana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Pinus banksiana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Pinus banksiana


Record Modified: 2015-04-16
Research By: TWC Staff

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