Content Detail

This under-used pine, native to the western United States, is more tolerant of alkaline soils than the Eastern white pine. The dark blue green needles help this tree stand out in the landscape.

  • Family (English) Pine
  • Family (botanic) Pinaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Evergreen (foliage year-round)
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Medium tree (25-40 feet), Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 30-50 feet
  • Mature width 15-35 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Oval, Pyramidal
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well No
  • Wildlife Birds, Browsers, Mammals
  • Has cultivars Yes

Native geographic location and habitat:

This tree is native to the Rocky Mountains in Western U.S. and Canada.

Bark color and texture:

Young trees have smooth, light gray bark. Older trees develop a blocky, scaly texture and turn grayish brown.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Needles are 2 1/2  to 3 1/2 inches long, grow in bundles of 5, and tend to be clustered at tips of branches. The dark bluish-green needles are slightly curved or twisted and persist for 5 to 6 years.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are monoecious (male and female flowers on the same tree in separate structures).  Male flowers bloom in clusters and female flowers are either solitary or in 2’s or 3’s.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Cones are 3 to 6 inches long, upright at youth, and turning pendulous at maturity.

Plant care:

This tree grows best in full sun with moist, well-drained soils but is tolerant of part shade. It is adaptable to dry soil and wind once established and has better tolerance of salt spray than other 5-needled pines.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

This tree is less troubled by pests and diseases than other pines and branches are flexible and less prone to storm damage

Extra Blue limber pine (Pinus flexilis ‘Extra Blue’): 

This cultivar has more intense blue color and is fast growing.  It grows 25 feet high and 15 feet wide.

Vanderwolf’s Pyramid limber pine (Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’ ):

This cultivar is faster growing than the species and has a very upright pyramidal habit.  The needles are a bright blue-green color and twisted.


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