Eastern white pine

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Boston commode
MFA3 23.19
Philadelphia pedestal
MFA# 1984.266
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)


A large conifer tree, Pinus strobus, found in the Eastern North America from the Appalachians to Canada. The Eastern white pine grows in well-drained, humid climates to heights of typically 70m. The needles occur in bundles of 5 to lengths of 5-13 cm. Their seed cones are only produced every 3-5 years and are slender with lengths of 8-16 cm and widths of 4-5 cm (when open). The trees were extensively logged in America prior to the 20th century resulting in a current old growth forest of less than 1%. The Eastern white pine lumber is a relatively soft, pale color, coarse-grain wood that was widely used for construction in the 19th century. The knot-free wood was used for colonial homes for paneling, floors and furniture. Currently, the straight-grain wood is used mainly for interior millwork, boxes, and matches.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Pinus strobus; pin de Weymouth (Fr.); pinho-mole (Port.); pino strobo (It.); Northern white pine; Weymouth pine; soft pine

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Color: Heartwood is light brown; sapwood is pale yellow to white. Color darkens with age
  • Grain/Texture: Grain is straight with an even, medium texture.
  • Durability: Decay resistant is low to moderate
  • Odor: Faint, resinous smell when worked
  • Density = 25 ppcf

Working Properties

  • Easy to work with both hand and machine tools
  • Glues and finishes well.

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 612
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • Northern Pine Manufacturers: air-dry weight = 25 pcf
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998