Jack Pine

New York Native

Pam and I ambled around the Arboretum for our Easter 2023 outing. Ezra Cornell had a large farm on the East Hill above Ithaca, New York. As part of locating New York State’s land-grant college in Ithaca, Cornell offered to donate the farm for use as a campus. Parts of this property remain in use as farmland. Our walk followed the outer Arboretum reaches along this research farm.

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All photography using the IPhone 14 ProMax triple camera, raw format, edited on the phone.

Growing off the road that loops around the Arboretum, this scraggly pine, the Jack Pine, attracted our attention by the grey colored growths curving around the branches 


These are pinecones with the unusual property of not opening, hanging onto the branch, turning this color, until the appropriate conditions arise, serotinous is the botanic term for this. They open when exposed to intense heat, greater than or equal to 50 °C (122 °F). The typical case is in a fire, however cones on the lower branches can open when temperatures reach 27 °C (81 °F) due to the heat being reflected off the ground. 

The Color of Younger Jack Pine Cones

Form and Behavior

Tolerant of conditions that preclude other trees, Jack Pines can form pure stands on sandy or rocky soil. It is fire-adapted to stand-replacing fires, with the cones remaining closed for many years, until a forest fire kills the mature trees and opens the cones, reseeding the burnt ground.


Pinus Banksiana, Pinaceae, Jack Pine, Nova scotia to New York and Minnesota

Joseph Banks classified this pine during a 1766 expedition to Labrador and Newfoundland, the scientific name, Pinus Banksiana, is in his honor.  Jack Pine is native to eastern North America in the far north, south to northwestern Pennsylvania, including New York State.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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