Needles in groups of five )
Pine Family (Pinaceae)
Habitat: Western Slopes with isolated eastern slopes presence
Height: 7.5-12 m
Description: This moderate elevation tree is uncommon on the eastern slopes, but more popular along the western slopes. It prefers the montane and subalpine, and often appears as a squat, low tree when growing on exposed slopes. It is not found north of Saskatchewan River Crossing. The needles are in groups of five, making it easy to identify. The cones are very large, usually between 7.5 cm-20 cm in length. The cones may also be as thick as 5.5 cm. The name "limber pine" comes from the strong, flexible nature of the young branches.
Similar Species: There are only three pines in the Rocky Mountains with needles in groups of five, the limber pine, the whitebark pine and the western white pine. The white-bark pine usually occurs higher in elevation than the limber pine, and has lighter coloured bark scales. The cones are also very different, with the cones of the whitebark pine rarely growing longer than 7.6 cm (3 in). The western white pine can sometimes be distinguished by range. It has only been found from Waterton Lakes National Park south. the bark of the western white pine is darker than either the limber or whitebark pine, and is divided into small square, scaly plates.
Range: Limber pine is very localized in its range, occurring only within the foothills of the eastern and western slopes of the Rockies. Usually, it will occur between 914-1830 m (3,000-6,000 ft).
Look for limber pines on Chinook blasted montane ridges. They rarely occur as pure stands, but a scattered individual trees, often very twisted and low in character.
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