Commonly called Norway pine because of an early mistaken association with a similar-looking species found in that country, red pine (Pinus resinosa) is truly a tree of the North. Its primary range extends from eastern Canada to northern-most Minnesota and south to Pennsylvania and southwest Wisconsin. It thrives in the sandy soils of the Great Lakes region and does well in the dry gravels of New England. In prime conditions, red pine annually grows a foot in height for its first 60 years, then growth tapers off to maturity at 100 years. The tree can attain a height of 140' with a diameter of 4'. The average tree, however, runs 60-80' tall with a diameter of 2-3' at breast height. The most recognizable feature of the red pine is its reddish brown bark divided into flat, irregularly shaped, flaky scales. This thick bark protects the tree from fire and insects. Red pine's dark green, glossy needles of 4-6" in length appear in pairs. In the spring, small purple blooms occur near new growth followed by round, red flowers. Conical seed cones are produced every two to four years, and remain high in the tree's crown. Where the tree is grown for timber, the hard-to-gather seed cones fetch a good price. Although red pine's Latin name implies large amounts of resin, its wood is comparatively non-resinous. At 33 pounds per cubic foot air-dry, it's a bit heavier than either Douglas fir or eastern white pine. Bordered by a thick layer of light yellow sapwood, the light red heartwood is both straight- and close-grained, and moderately strong. When seasoned, the wood remains stable in use.
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