Jack pine, Pinus banksiana, is a North American native whose native range is from Northwest Territories to Nova Scotia, and the northeast of the United States from Minnesota to Maine, with the southernmost part just into northwest Indiana. It was named after Sir Joseph Banks, the famed naturalist who accompanied Captain Cook on his first great voyage of exploration.

It is not at the top of most connoisseurs’ lists as a popular ornamental pine. This is possibly due to the fact that Jack pine does not usually grow perfectly straight but has a pronounced irregular shape. And yet that very irregularity is its charm. Jack pines will never be like soldiers, all in a row, and no two are ever the same. But that is precisely their appeal and perhaps the reason why a Jack pine was the subject of the artist Tom Thomson’s famous painting, "The Jack Pine". Its form, always unique, is ruggedly picturesque, and the tree is as rugged in adaptability as it is in habit. It is the most northern growing pine in existence and is perfectly at home in some of the harshest landscapes on earth, plus salt and drought tolerant. It is also a valuable source of food and habitat for birds and small mammals making it a good choice for the wildlife friendly garden. Being a medium evergreen, growing from 25 to 50 feet in cultivation, and somewhat taller when grown in dense stands, it works well as a screen or hedge. And, when sited properly, makes an excellent wind-break. It also works as a specimen where its crooked, craggy form will be appreciated. It's needles are in fasciles of two and are a pretty medium green. The cones are small, greyish brown, and held close to the branch. On young trees the bark is an attractive cinnamon that turns darker and flakier with age. And although it is drought tolerant, it will do best with steady moisture and full sun. It is not shade tolerant.

Jack pine


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