Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sparsely scattered in the Sierra Nevada: white pine (Pinus flexilis)

The white pine (Pinus flexilis), like the dwarf pine, grows at high elevation, typically above 9,000 feet above the sea [1]. The name “white pine” also refers to a subgenus within the genus Pinus: subgenus Strobus, commonly named white pines or soft pines [2]. Therefore, Pinus flexilis is often called by the common name limber pine or by geographically enhanced terms such as Rocky Mountain white pine [3]. The latter name hints at its main distribution range—the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico. Pinus flexilis is also found in the Great Basin and the eastern Sierra Nevada [1]:
This species is widely distributed throughout the Rocky Mountains, and over all the higher of the many ranges of the Great Basin, between the Wahsatch Mountains and the Sierra, where it is known as White Pine. In the Sierra it is sparsely scattered along the eastern flank, from Bloody Cañon southward nearly to the extremity of the range, opposite the village of Lone Pine, nowhere forming any appreciable portion of the general forest. From its peculiar position, in loose, straggling parties, it seems to have been derived from the Basin ranges to the eastward, where it is abundant.
John Muir, 1894.

Note: Now spelled “Wasatch,” the spelling “Wahsatch” was used during John Muir's time. See, for example, the title “Salt Lake City and Wahsatch Mountains” of a book published in 1869 [4].

Keywords: conifers, Pinales, Pinaceae, scientific classification, natural history.

References and more to explore
[1] John Muir: The Mountains of California. The Century Company, New York, 1894. Note: see page 152  in the Penguin Classics Book print of 1985 with an introduction by Edward Hoagland.
[2] The Gymnosperm Database: Pinus [].
[3] The Gymnosperm Database: Pinus flexilis [].
[4] Salt Lake City and Wahsatch Mountains [].

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