53. Shore Pine

(Pinus contorta var. contorta)

Other Common Name: Beach Pine

Family: Pinaceae

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South of Meany Hall are bushy Shore Pines. Fairly compact and shrub-like, shore pine bears 1 to 3 inch (2.5 to 7.6 centimeter) needles in bundles of two and small prickly cones. Native in Seattle, this species is planted where "cast iron" hardiness is needed: toleration of dry, exposed sites and wretched soil. Its mountain kindred the Lodgepole pine (P. contorta var. latifolia) is slender and thin-barked with many similarities in needles and cones. Given good conditions Lodgepole pine grows up to 125 feet (40 meters) tall, but Shore pine often only reaches 40 feet (12 meters).


The cones of Shore pine require high heat to open and release the seeds, and because of this the tree depends on fires to regenerate itself. Infrequent, high-severity fire events often replace an entire stand of Shore pine and open up the cones to allow a new generation to become established. Because it is rich in pitch, the wood from this species will burn well even when green. The roots are strong and can be braided to make rope.

[Leaves and cones of Shore Pine]

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