Jack Pine

Jack pine (Pinus banksiana) is an eastern North American pine. Its native range in Canada is east of the Rocky Mountains from the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, and the north-central and northeast of the United States from Minnesota to Maine, with the southernmost part of the range just into northwest Indiana and northwest Pennsylvania. It is also known as grey pine and scrub pine. Jack Pine Wood is medium to low durability quality, Therefore it is not suitable for extreme weather and external application.

Jack pine is a small to medium-sized evergreen noted for its scraggly appearance and ability to grow in poor soils. Its needles are short, stiff, olive green (to 1.5” long) in bundles of two. Its crown is small, irregularly rounded or spreading and flattened over time. Branches descending to spreading-ascending and poorly self-pruning – often retaining dead branches longer than other pines. Its strongly-curved cones are fire-adapted and retained for several years, resulting in a coarse appearance. The trunk is often crooked; bark at first dark and scaly, later develops scaly ridges.

Table of Contents


30 - 100 feet

Width-Circumference (Avg)

10 - 20 feet

Approximate pH

5.0 - 7.5

Growing Jack Pine Tree

Where To Grow

Jack pine is usually found on sandy or rocky soils. It prefers full sun and well-drained soils. It can be used in screens and shelterbelts and is sometimes used as a landscape tree. It’s scraggly appearance, however, makes it hard to love.

How to Grow Jack Pines From Seed

Once you’ve collected the seeds of a jack pine tree, you’ll need to coax the cone to open. Under natural circumstances, heat (usually from a wildfire) is responsible for loosening the resin that holds the cone closed. No need to toss these pine cones in the fire to gain access to the seeds inside. Instead, you can soak the cones in hot water for 8 to 12 hours and then set them in the sun and wait for them to open.

Germination happens quickly with jack pine seeds, and as mentioned earlier, these plants don’t require anything more than bare mineral soil to get started. However, the seeds will sometimes need a quick cold stratification to jolt them from their dormancy.

Jack Pine Trees Care

The jack pine tree won’t demand much of your time and attention. These easy-keepers grow prolifically in conditions that might seem inhospitable—especially on barren, stripped soil in the wake of wildfires. They won’t demand much if you plant them in your yard or landscape.

No special considerations need to be made to water these trees, and they generally never need fertilizer, since they do well in bare mineral soil. They’re drought tolerant, but prefer temperate summers and cold winters. You can try to manage the appearance of the wayward growing branches with pruning, but most people accept the jack pine as it is.

Pests can be a problem if insects like the jack pine budworm or other boring insects arrive on the scene. The best defense for a pine tree is health and vitality, so if your jack pine is planted in a location with plenty of sun and provided water during extended periods of drought, it’ll be more insect and disease-resistant.


Jack pine seedlings are dependent on full sun at the start of their growth cycle, and these trees do best with at least 6 hours or more of direct sun throughout their life cycle. In fact, lower branches of the tree sometimes die because of being shaded from the sun’s rays by the tree’s canopy.


The jack pine is able to adapt to very dry soil conditions and is often found in sandy soil. However, it has been noted that its preference is for loamy soils that have a mix of clay, sand, and nutrient-rich humus material. Generally, jack pine trees prefer acidic soil but can grow in some alkaline soils if the conditions are right.

These trees often do well in soil that has been ravaged by wildfires and are quick to spring up in the bare mineral soil.


Jack pine is not dependent on an abundance of water. This drought-tolerant tree species would much prefer dry conditions to being swamped in wet soil. As a hardy conifer, it's unlikely that you’ll have to supplement this tree with a regular watering schedule. Unless extreme conditions prevail, the jack pine is generally satisfied with the annual rainfall it receives.

Temperature and Humidity

The jack pine exhibits tremendous hardiness in the cold, and can survive even the frigid winter temperatures. However, they don’t fare so well in hot, humid summer conditions and prefer climates with short, warm to cool summers. It’s no surprise, then, that these trees are often found in the greatest numbers in the United States in the states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.


These trees grow where few other plants dare to—preferring the bare mineral soil of sites recently ravaged by wildfire. These trees thrive in low-nutrient soils, so it’s unlikely that you’ll need to fertilize the soil surrounding a jack pine tree. Cross this task off your to-do list if you plant a jack pine tree in your yard!

Pruning and Propagating Jack Pine


The jack pine tree is known for its free-styling nature and tends to grow in a variety of directions. This wayward growth pattern gives these trees character and a unique look, so don’t expect to prune or shape it into the look of a conventional conifer.

In addition, these trees often retain their dead lower limbs for an extended period of time. You can lop them off, but it’s often not necessary to do so. If you do decide to clean up the lower extremities of your jack pine tree, do so in the spring before the sap starts running in the summer season.

Propagating Jack Pine

If you’re looking to multiply jack pine trees, the tightly sealed pine cones hold the key to propagation. Inside these cones, which can remain sealed for decades, are plenty of seeds that can sprout new jack pine seedlings. Choose pine cones that are mature, which is generally indicated by a changing of color in the fall. Trees generally need to be 3 to 5 years old to serve as a seed source.

Pests and Plant Diseases

Pests and diseases can be an issue with these types of trees. The jack pine budworm attacks jack pines in the upper U.S. states around the Great Lakes and in the provinces of Canada every year. Other insects that cause damage to these trees include types of weevils, budworms, and beetles. Wild birds can assist with the control of some of these pests, but sometimes it might be necessary to use chemicals to eradicate them.

Young jack pines and seedlings are also prone to different kinds of root rot and fungus.

Keep your jack pine healthy by putting it in a full sun location and giving it plenty of water during drought conditions.


1. Construction Lumber

Jack Pine is more commonly used as construction lumber. Jack Pine is a moderately hard and heavy wood. Its straight grain gives good strength and support. Therefore it is a great choice for poles and construction lumber.

2. Decking

Jack Pine is a softwood and is not rated for resistance to rottenness, yet it is used for decking. Because pressure treatment and treated lumber are used for decking and exterior projects.

Treated wood is resistant to moisture and decay. The common wood(without treatment) of jack pine is not suitable for decking. It starts deteriorating in a few years due to exposure to soil and moisture.

3. Christmas Tree

The Jack Pine Christmas tree is very popular and it has been used for a long time. It is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree. The Pine Christmas tree business is huge. Jack Pine is cultivated such as Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir, etc for Christmas trees.

Jack Pine grows 5-7 feet in 6 to 10 years, 5 to 6 feet is the most popular size for a Christmas tree. Due to the good growth of jack pine, the large demand for Christmas trees can be easily met.

4. Boxes/crates

Jack Pine has great workability. It is slightly knotty as compared to other softwoods but glues, and finishes well. It is important for wooden crates to be strong as well as light. So that it is easy for transportation.

5. Paper(Pulpwood)

Around 16% of tree production worldwide is used for making paper. Apart from jack pine, there are many species of pine and other softwood and hardwood that are used extensively in paper manufacturing.

Jack Pine, Coniferous wood (softwood) is the best option for pulpwood. Because they have uniform and longer fiber cells. Long fibers provide strength and smoothness. Which is very important for good paper quality.

Most paper companies use a mixture of both hardwood and softwood for paper manufacturing. Softwood provides good flexibility, high folding strength, good tensile strength, and hardwood is denser than softwood. So It provides great stiffness and high thickness.

6. Medical Uses

The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers. A poultice of the inner bark has been used in the treatment of deep cuts. The leaves have been used in a herbal steam bath to clear congested lungs. They have also been used as a fumigant to revive a comatose patient.

7. Edible Uses

Seed - raw or cooked. Rich in oil with a slightly resinous flavour. They are very small and fiddly to utilize, being only 2 - 3mm long[200]. Young cones - cooked. Inner bark. No more information is given, but the bark can usually be eaten raw or cooked. It can also be dried, then ground into a powder and used as a thickener in soups or can be mixed with cereal flours when making bread etc. A refreshing drink is made from the leaves. A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All