Jack Pine Pinus banksiana
Family: Pinaceae (Pine)
Branching: Evergreen

Jack Pine has the shortest needles (2 per bundle) of Ontario's pines.  It is quite rare in extreme southern Ontario (the Carolinian forest belt) but becomes more prevalent as you go north.  Its short needles help it stand out, especially when growing beside something like Red Pine.  Scots pine is probably the most similar in appearance to Jack Pine, with both having shortish needles, often paired cones and flaky bark.  However, Scots Pine has a bluish tinge to the needles whereas Jack Pine is yellowish; Jack Pine's cones are always paired on the branch and face forward; and there is usually a marked colour difference between the reddish bark at the top of a Scots Pine and the more brown bark at the base (Jack Pine never gets as red as the top of a Scots Pine)  Occasionally a Jack Pine has very reddish bark on the main truck, causing it to resemble a Red Pine.  However, Red Pine needles are always about twice as long as Jack Pine.

Jack Pine branch, showing the characteristic paired cones that face forward

Closeup of the needles.  In pairs of two, short and somewhat twisted

Another view of a Jack Pine branch

Middle-aged Jack Pine bark

Young Jack Pine bark

Typical shape of Jack Pine crown

A grove of mature Jack Pines

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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