When people think about pine trees, many will automatically associate these trees with conifer trees. In actuality, this shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise because pines are the largest family of conifers!
Pine trees (Pinus) are most commonly found in the northern hemisphere and these trees have over one hundred different species. In North America, there are 49 native species of pine trees alone!
The height of pine trees varies drastically. While most varieties of pines will grow between 50 and 80 feet, several species of pine trees only get to 10 feet in height.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are rare species of pine trees that can stand over 200 feet tall!
These trees don’t just grow to great heights, but they’re beneficial to local wildlife too! Pine tree seeds provide meals for many local squirrels and birds. In fact, because some birds eat pine seeds and then migrate to different areas, they have helped spread this tree species to areas across the entire continent!
Why Are Pine Trees So Tall?
When people think of pine trees, their thoughts likely go to conifer trees as we mentioned, and that’s because pine trees are the largest member of the conifer family!
The reason these two names are so closely paired is that conifer trees are simply plants that have cones. We’ve all heard of pine cones, and have probably even done our fair share of pine cone crafts during your younger school years, so we know that the cones of this tree are a crafting favorite.
In addition to their great height capabilities, pine trees also have a long lifespan of 100 to 1,000 years. This aids in their massive height, as they have quite a long time to grow!
You can learn more about the full timeline of the growth of a pine tree in our detailed article!
Taking into consideration the height and lifespan that pine trees have, it’s also easy to see why they are one of the most important trees used in carpentry. From floors and roofing to furniture, framing, and more, pine trees can have several uses and can play a key role in driving a business’s success.
Other than crafts and supporting the carpentry industry, pine trees also make an attractive addition to neighborhood and park landscapes, and – don’t forget – many folks consider the pine tree to be their go-to tree when they’re out shopping for Christmas trees!
There are even more things you can use pine wood for. For a more in-depth list, take a look at our article on what to do with pine trees!
Tallest (And Most Common) Pine Trees In The United States
We mentioned that there are over one hundred species of pine trees in the world, and you can find nearly half of them here in the United States. Of course, you won’t find all forty-plus species in the same state – each species of the pine tree has its own set of unique preferences for it to thrive in its environment.
So, let’s look at the most common pine tree species you’ll find growing in various parts of the United States, as well as some helpful information on each species to see if it would make a worthwhile addition to your property’s landscaping.
10. Eastern White Pine
Height: 50 to 80 feet
The Eastern white pine, or Pinus strobus, is a hardy pine that has soft blue-green colored needles and thrives in a variety of conditions. From full sun to partial shade, you can spot this tree in environments ranging from dry deserts to wet, bog-like areas and all the rocky areas in between.
This tree has several uses, but is most commonly used as a screen or windbreak in landscaping and is also a highly popular pine to be used as a Christmas tree!
If you’ve ever considered growing your own Christmas tree, read our article on the ten fastest growing Christmas trees.
Squirrels and birds will eat the seeds of the Eastern white pine as we mentioned early on, but besides these creatures, these seeds are also a favorite for many others, including rabbits and black bears. These trees also provide great nesting spots for many local birds, which include woodpeckers and chickadees.
Like many other trees and plants, the Eastern white pine has its own unique set of challenges as well. Beavers, rabbits, and mice have all been known to eat the bark of the tree, which can lead to potential damage depending on if they’re able to eat or peel enough of the bark away.
9. Loblolly Pine
Height: 60 to 100 feet
The loblolly pine, or Pinus taeda, can be found most frequently along the east coast and in Texas. Since most of this coastline is in the southern states, it’s not a surprise that this pine tree prefers full sun and is drought tolerant.
Perhaps from the amount of sun that these trees can tolerate, the needles of the loblolly pine are commonly a dark yellow color, though they can be green, and this tree will lose its lower branches as it ages.
A variety of southeastern animals eat the seeds of the loblolly. It provides meals to chickadees, wild turkeys, chipmunks, and small rodents, who love to feast on the seeds of this pine tree.
The loblolly pine usually grows in an oval shape, which also matches the pine cone shape these trees produce! The pine cones on the loblolly are oval-shaped, roughly three to six inches, and are a reddish brown.
8. Lodgepole Pine
Height: 70 to 80 feet
The lodgepole pine, or Pinus contorta, goes by another name as well – the black pine! This name comes from the color of the tree’s flaky bark, which can range in color from orange-brown to gray to black.
The lodgepole can grow in a variety of soil types, from moist to well-drained, rich to clay, and every soil type in between. Since this pine can grow in sun and shade, it’s no surprise you can find it in both northern and southern states!
If you’re curious about pine tree care, read our article on how much sunlight your pine tree needs for a deeper explanation.
These pine trees have a distinct needle appearance which helps with their identification. The needles range in color from a yellowish green to dark green and are found in twisted bundles of two. The cones of the lodgepole are also relatively small, only about an inch and a half, and will remain on the tree, unopened, for years!
7. Longleaf Pine
Height: 60 to 80 feet
The longleaf pine, or Pinus palustris, is found along the coastal plain area spanning from Virginia to Texas, and even along the western coast as well.
During its early years, this pine tree will remain in a grass-like stage and then once it hits about five years of age it will begin growing at a more rapid rate – anywhere from one to two feet a year!
The cones of the longleaf are also noteworthy because of their size. This tree produces oblong cones that can range up to five inches long and five inches wide at their base. Those are some hefty pine cones to craft with!
The seeds of the longleaf provide meals for many local wildlife as well. Other than woodpeckers and squirrels, quail and turkeys also enjoy eating the seeds of this pine tree.
6. Pitch Pine
Height: 40 to 70 feet
The pitch pine, or Pinus rigida, can be found in its greatest numbers on the eastern coast of the United States, spanning from Maine to Georgia. It has dark green needles once developed and small cones, about two inches long, that grow in clusters of three to five.
The pitch pine tree doesn’t have the usual shape of other pines on our list. Instead, this pine can often be found in twist-like shapes which make them an interesting catch to the eye if they’re used as a landscape piece.
Another fun fact about this tree is that while it easily burns because of its resin content, it’s not unusual for the pitch pine to survive fires. In fact, some trees that look as though they have been demolished by fire can later be seen growing again!
Keep in mind though that pines aren’t necessarily an ideal tree to add to your yard if you live in an area where wildfires are a common occurrence, but should the unfortunate event happen, your pitch pine may survive the damage better than other landscaped trees.
5. Ponderosa Pine
Height: 60 to 100 feet
This giant pine, Pinus ponderosa, grows in nearly all the states, except for those in the extreme south.
The ponderosa pine grows best in full sunlight and can easily acclimate to a variety of soil types. Once the tree is fully established, it is highly drought tolerant. Since its bark grows so thick, the ponderosa is considered a wildfire-resistant tree.
It’s common for this pine to have a range of yellow to olive green colored needles that grow to be half a foot and are normally clustered in groups of three. The cones of this tree are also unique–a reddish brown–and have prickly tips.
Nearly every part of the ponderosa pine is utilized by wildlife. Turkeys, crossbills, and chipmunks love to eat the seeds of this pine. The leaves and bark can be eaten by elk and deer, and because of its size, this tree is a prime location for many birds to use as a nesting spot.
4. Red Pine
Height: 60 to 80 feet
The red pine, or Pinus resinosa, gets its name from the color of its bark, which turns reddish brown as the tree matures.
When you spot a mature red pine tree, don’t be surprised if the branches on the tree don’t appear to grow until they’re about two-thirds of the way up the truck. This seemingly unusual look is because this pine is self-pruning!
Red pines will grow in an oval shape and will remain symmetrical as they grow despite their branch growth pattern. The needles of this pine may resemble many other pines at first glance, as the needles of this pine are bundled in pairs, dark green, and soft and flexible.
Unfortunately, the Red Pine is more susceptible to insect and disease problems than some of the other trees on our list, so many would advise against adding this pine to your home landscape.
3. Shortleaf Pine
Height: 50 to 100 feet
The shortleaf pine, or Pinus echinata, can be known by yet another name – the yellow pine! This tree gets its added name from the yellowish color of the tree trunk, which can be revealed when the tree bark scales are removed.
Like many other pines, the shortleaf pine can thrive in several soil types, and because this pine is more common in the southern states, it doesn’t come as a surprise that it can thrive in sandy soils where soil moisture is minimal.
The shortleaf pine’s needles grow in bundles of two and are a dark blueish green, growing to be less than six inches. While this pine produces cones, you won’t see any being produced on these trees until it is at least 20 years old!
Surprisingly, this pine is considered resistant to deer damage. Birds, small mammals, and rodents commonly eat the seeds of the shortleaf. If the tree is well maintained, it shouldn’t experience many problems, though pine beetles and weevils may be attracted to the tree.
2. Sugar Pine
Height: 120 – 200 feet
The sugar pine, or Pinus lambertiana, is a monster of a pine tree, and we’d consider it to be the largest pine tree on our list.
In fact, because of the sheer height that a sugar pine can grow to, their cones alone can be nearly two feet long!
These trees are sure to stand out with a few distinct characteristics. With their cinnamon red bark, dark green foliage, and downward sweeping branches, these trees know how to make a visual statement.
Birds and other mammals help spread the seeds of this tree, but these seeds are also equipped with a wing that helps them spread when they catch the wind! Then, when the seed drops and, if conditions are favorable, the seedling will start the life cycle over to help this tree repopulate.
1. Western White Pine
Height: 100 to 160 feet
The western white pine, or Pinus monticola, is known by another name as well – the silver pine!
You can identify the Western White Pine by its long, banana-shaped pine cones and its needles that are bundled in groups of five.
But how else do you differentiate between the western and eastern white pines? The western white pine is a more narrow tree with chunkier bark and is more blue-green.
The western white pine is commonly used for lumber and can be used in woodwork and millwork, including windows and doors and – surprisingly – wood matches!
Picking The Perfect Pine Tree
So now that we’ve given you the tallest of the pine trees to choose from, how can you compare all the options and determine which pine will be the best suited for your property? You’ve come to the right spot!
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) utilizes hardiness zones to help plant lovers alike determine which plants are most likely to thrive in a certain location.
So, we’ve done the work for you and have taken our top ten tallest pine trees and charted them out below so that you can determine which pine tree will be most successful in your area!
Tallest Pine Tree Varieties In The United States
|PINE TREE||AVERAGE HEIGHT (IN FEET)||HARDINESS ZONE|
|Sugar Pine||120 – 200||5 – 10|
|Western White Pine||100 – 160||4 – 8|
|Ponderosa Pine||60 – 100||3 – 7|
|Loblolly Pine||60 – 100||6 – 9|
|Shortleaf Pine||50 – 100||6 – 9|
|Lodgepole Pine||70 – 80||4 – 8|
|Red Pine||60 – 80||2 – 5|
|Longleaf Pine||60 – 80||7 – 10|
|Eastern White Pine||50 – 80||3 – 8|
|Pitch Pine||40 – 70||4 – 7|
Your tree will probably need maintenance at some point. Luckily, we have an article on when and why to prune your pine tree to make it easier to grow a healthy tree.
That’s A Wrap!
Whether you’re looking to plant your first pine tree from a seedling or are looking to help the current pine trees in your yard thrive, now you have a bit of a better idea as to the height and longevity of the tree.
Once your pine tree is thriving, consider a fertilizer like Jobe’s 01001 Fertilizer Spikes, and be sure to have a bug treatment like Greenkeeper’s Choice Neem Oil Spray For Plants stocked away in your garage or shed in case you spot any insect activity.
From there, sit back, relax, and enjoy watching your pine grow and thrive to its highest height!
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Fox, T. R., Jokela, E. J., & Allen, H. L. (2007). The development of pine plantation silviculture in the southern United States. Journal of Forestry, 105(7), 337-347.
Hanover, J. W. (1975). Comparative physiology of eastern and western white pines: oleoresin composition and viscosity. Forest Science, 21(3), 214-221.
Ne’eman, G., Goubitz, S., Werger, M. J., & Shmida, A. (2011). Relationships between tree size, crown shape, gender segregation and sex allocation in Pinus halepensis, a Mediterranean pine tree. Annals of Botany, 108(1), 197-206.
Savage, M., Brown, P. M., & Feddema, J. (1996). The role of climate in a pine forest regeneration pulse in the southwestern United States. Ecoscience, 3(3), 310-318.
Stevens, K. A., Wegrzyn, J. L., Zimin, A., Puiu, D., Crepeau, M., Cardeno, C., & Langley, C. H. (2016). Sequence of the sugar pine megagenome. Genetics, 204(4), 1613-1626.
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