2. Needles in bundles of 3, 12-20 cm long..........................Pinus ponderosa
2. Needles generally in bundles of 2, 2-6 cm long.
3. Cones spreading at right angles or reflexed, the scales armed with prickles...............................Pinus controta (2 varieties)
3. Cones directed towards the apex of the shoot, strongly incurved or divergent, the scales unarmed or armed with minute prickles..................Pinus banksiana
1. Needles usually 5 in a bundle.
4. Cones long-stalked, 15-25 cm long, 6-9 cm thick at maturity; cone scales thin and flexible; seeds prominently winged..........................Pinus monticola 4. Cones sessile or subsessile, 5-25 cm long, cone scales thick, woody, and sometimes remaining closed, seeds wingless or wings short and remaining attached to scale.
5. Cones 8-25 cm long, opening at maturity; scales light brown, thinned somewhat toward the tip...............................Pinus flexilis
5. Cones 5-8 cm long, remaining closed and tardily shedding the seeds at maturity; scales purplish, becoming thickened rather than thinnish toward the tip....................................Pinus albicaulis
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia
Habitat / Range
Mesic to dry slopes in the subalpine zone; infrequent in the Rocky Mountains of SE BC; E to SW AB and S to S CA, AZ, NM, and NE.
Identification: Limber Pine is a member of the white pine group, Pinus subgenus Strobus, and like all members of that group, the leaves ('needles') are in fascicles (bundles) of five, with a deciduous sheath. This distinguishes it from the Lodgepole Pine, with two needles per fascicle, and the bristlecone pines, which share five needles per fascicle but have a semi-persistent sheath. Distinguishing Limber Pine from the related Whitebark Pine, also a white pine, is very much more difficult, and can only easily be done by the cones. In Limber Pine, the cones are 6-12 cm long where the species overlap, green when immature, and open to release the seeds; the scales are not fragile. In Whitebark Pine, the cones are 4-7 cm long, dark purple when immature, and do not open on drying, but are fragile and are pulled apart by birds (see below) to release the seeds. A useful clue resulting is that Whitebark Pines almost never have intact old cones lying under them, whereas Limber Pines usually do. In the absence of cones, Limber Pine can also be hard to tell from Western White Pine where they occur together in the northern Rockies and the Sierra Nevada east slope. The most useful clue here is that Limber Pine needles are entire (smooth when rubbed gently in both directions), whereas Western White Pine needles are finely serrated (feeling rough when rubbed gently from tip to base). Limber Pine needles are also usually shorter, 4-7 cm long, to Western White Pine's 5-10 cm (though note the overlap).
Note source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limber_Pine), accessed July 17, 2009
Ecological Framework for Pinus flexilis
The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range. (Updated August, 2013)
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for
Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2021-06-22 1:28:18 PM
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