White Bark Pine
The Whitebark Pine can grow to 20m, but normally, it is a much smaller, multi-trunked tree, with a shape that has led to it being nicknamed the “broccoli tree”. At the highest elevations where you can still find trees, the Whitebark will grow, often only to 2m or so.
Whitebark Pines produce oil-rich pine nuts. This creates a special relationship with the Clarks Nutcracker and Grizzly Bear. Both Nutcrackers and Grizzlies love pine nuts. Grizzlies fatten up on Whitebark pine nuts prior to going to den for the winter. Clarks Nutcrackers eat the nuts year round – they collect them in the fall when they are ripe and bury them in caches, which they can then access throughout the rest of the year. Still, they forget some, and these then might germinate and grow into new trees, feeding both them and the Grizzlies. Since both Grizzlies and Whitebarks are threatened species, protection is important.
where it lives
To see Whitebarks, you need to get up into our mountains – subalpine and higher (1500-2000m). These trees are often the highest tree growing on mountains in their range.
Whitebark Pines are BLUE-LISTED in British Columbia, meaning they are at risk. These trees are susceptible to blister-rust, a fungus native to Asia. It arrived in North America, via Europe, hitting the west Coast of Canada around 1920. As well, climate change will impact alpine treeline – the treeline will grow higher, eliminating or reducing subalpine/alpine species.
- Native Trees of BC
- Reese Halter
- Nancy J. Turner
- BC Government
- BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer
What you can do
Become a member of the Lillooet Naturalist Society. They support the the Whitebark Pine Foundation of Canada.
Become an Expert
Learn more and become a member or donate to the Whitebark Pine Foundation of Canada.