Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation (WPEF)

We are a science-based non-profit dedicated to counteracting the decline of whitebark pine and enhancing knowledge about the value of its ecosystems.


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Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation
PO Box 17943
Missoula, Montana 59808

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The Magnificent Five-Needle Pines

Western North America

Five-needle white pines play important functional roles in high-mountain ecosystems, with several acting as keystone and foundation species and thus providing both stability to ecosystems and fostering biodiversity. At least one high-five pine species is found in every high-mountain region of the western U.S. and Canada, contributing a diversity of forest cover types. These pines are functional components of high-elevation ecosystems and provide ecosystem services directly benefiting humans. Collectively, they represent a large array of community types because they occur in association with many other forest trees and understory species. In addition, these pines contribute a unique aesthetic to high-elevation forest ecosystems, whether as multi-layered forests of tall, old-growth trees through the rare presence of millennium-aged trees growing solitarily in small stands on remote slopes, as wind-battered, strip-barked survivors on harsh upper subalpine sites, or as mat-like, creeping krummholz growth forms under the harshest conditions at the highest treeline elevations.

Five-Needle White Pines

Meet the High-Elevation, Five-Needle Pines

Subsection Strobus

  1. Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis)
  2. Limber pine (Pinus flexilis)
  3. Southwestern white pine (Pinus strobiformis) – LINK COMING SOON
  4. Sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana)
  5. Western white pine (Pinus monticola)

Subsection Balfourianae

  1. Foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana)
  2. Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva)
  3. Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata)

Photos by Jeff Bisbee and Michael Kauffmann