This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Monday, December 22, 2008

White pine

I have been planning to do some posts on trees, especially the conifers, which are easier to identify in the winter than in the summer, and the freezing rain and the resulting ice that has covered everything has greatly increased my supply of pictures. A logical place to start after the ice storm is with the eastern white pine, a tree that suffered a lot of damage from the ice and one of the few native pines in Indiana.
The white pine is fairly easy to spot. First of all, it looks like a pine, not a spruce tree. It has long needles, and if you look closely at the needles, you will notice that they come in bunches of five. One of the keys to identifying pine trees is to notice how the needles are packaged. Some pines needles come in bundles of two, others three, but if there are five to a bunch and you are in Indiana, it is almost certainly an eastern white pine. The other key to identifying a white pine is the pine cone. It is long and rather ugly and no other pine tree (or conifer) around here has one that looks like it.
There a quite a few large white pines in Rensselaer. An impressive couple stand on the corner of College and Milroy, in front of the old Kannal House.

I took the above picture just a few days before our December ice storm. Here is what the scene looked like on the morning after the freezing rain.
If you start looking for white pines, you will be surprised at how many you can find. There are many on the west side of Sparling by St. Joseph's College, and there is a row along Bunkum by Weston Cemetery. They looked a bit strange with their coating of ice.
They lost a lot of branches due to ice and rather unceremoniously dumped them on one of the graves.
Below is a line of white pines that are south of Justin Hall at St. Joseph's College. Note the deposit of branches and needles under each tree. I did not see any white pines that did not lose at least one branch. The fact that they are native says that either they regenerate very well, or that the type of weather we have just experienced is not very common.
The white pine is commonly used as a Christmas tree.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are so right about the pines. You must have noticed all of the branches in my yard. Nice photos of a certain house.