Friends of Myles Standish State Forest

East Head Reservoir Eco Tour



White Pine (Pinus strobus)

White Pine in the Sky - Charlie Pye

The White pine is an evergreen conifer that grows a ring of new branches each year. So by counting the rings of branches up the trunk you can tell how old the tree is. Also, the distance between each ring of branches records growing conditions. In wet years pines may add well over a foot, while drought may limit growth to practically nothing. White pines are long-lived, While most usually live about two hundred years, they may live up to 450 years. White pines and have soft evergreen needles in bundles of five and loose about one third of the needles every year.

Needles in Bundles of Five

Five inch long Cones

The white pine cones are the largest in the forest. They are five to eight inches long with thin scales.

Why are they called White?

- Charlie Pye

White Bark of a White Pine

Not only is the milled wood clear and light, but in certain light the bark looks white.

A Royal Decree

A 1688 decree ordered that all suitable pines of 24 inches or more in diameter be stamped with a broad arrow and designated for use as Royal Navy ship masts. This caused the Pine Tree Riot in Weare, New Hampshire. The pine tree became a symbol of freedom, strength and independence in New England appearing on banners, flags, coins, and pamphlets. Mast Road, a few miles away in Plymouth, gets its name as a route for transporting mast trees to the coast.

While logging has eliminated most of the old growth white pines, these trees grow well and are even considered aggressive and have re-established itself throughout the original range.

White pines are grown for Christmas trees and are also used in furniture making.


These tall trees provide nesting sites for bald eagles, owls, cavity nesting birds, and others birds. Many songbirds and small mammals eat the seeds, and a host of invertebrates and funga use white pines during their lifetime.

Biggest Tree in the Forest?

Where is it? About 134 Cranberry Rd, Carver.

This pine has side branches that emerge close to the ground. As you enter the forest on Cranberry road watch for this giant just beyond the first cranberry bog on the left. It is about fifty feet from the road.

All line drawings by: Patricia J. Cassidy