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Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis)

Limber Pine Bark Limber Pine, a conifer of the Rocky Mountains and Intermountain West, ranges from British Columbia and Alberta south to New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. Limber Pine's natural habitat is usually dry, exposed ridges, and it can often be found at both lower and upper timberline. It is slow growing and may be long-lived - 1,000 years or more. An example of this western species, planted in 1990 as part of the Arboretum's Conifer Collection, has done well in our eastern environment.

Limber Pine Needles Limber Pine is one of several western white pines. It has yellow-green to bluish-green needles that are 1.5 to 3 in. long and usually borne in bundles of 5. The needles are densely tufted at the ends of the twigs and point forward. The branches and twigs are tough and flexible, giving rise to the epithet "limber" in the common name. Limber Pine grows to heights of 40 to 60 ft, although at high altitudes in its natural range, it may have a twisted and contorted growth form, forming a stunted forest known as "krummholz." The reddish to yellow cones are 3 to 10 in. long, and the seeds provide an important food source for small mammals, birds, and bears. The light gray bark is smooth on younger trees, but becomes dark brown and scaly with age.

The close-grained, resinous wood is poorly suited for lumber. Historically it has been used for mine timbers, cabins, railroad ties, fencing, and firewood.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu