Twisted White Pine Trees: Growing Contorted White Pines In The Landscape

Contorted white pine is a type of eastern white pine that has a number of attractive features. Its biggest claim to fame is the unique, twisted quality of the branches and needles. For more contorted white pine information, including tips on growing white pines with twisted growth, read on.

Contorted White Pine Information

Contorted white pine trees (Pinus strobus ‘Contorta’ or ‘Torulosa’) share many of the traits of eastern white pine, a native needled evergreen. Both grow relatively rapidly and can live over 100 years. While eastern white pine trees shoot up to 80 feet (24 m.) in cultivation and can attain 200 feet (61 m.) in the wild, twisted white pine trees don’t. Contorted white pine information suggests that this cultivar tops out around 40 feet (12 m.) tall. The evergreen needles on Contorta grow in clusters of five. Each individual needle is slender, twisted, and about 4 inches (10 cm.) long. They are soft to the touch. Male cones are yellow and female cones are red. Each grows to about 6 inches (15 cm.) long. Twisted white pine trees are definitely eye-catching. The trees grow with a strong central leader and a rounded form, developing low canopies that only leave some 4 feet (1 m.) of clearance below them. White pines with twisted growth add a fine and delicate texture to a backyard landscape. That makes them a popular garden accent feature.

Growing Contorted White Pine Trees

If you are thinking of growing contorted white pine trees, don’t worry if you live in a chilly area. Twisted white pine trees are hardy to USDA plant hardiness zone 3. On the other hand, you’ll need a sunny location to plant white pines with twisted growth. Be sure you have enough room, since the tree, left to its own devices, may spread to 30 feet (9 m.). Also, check the soil. It’s a lot easier growing contorted white pine in acidic soil, since alkaline soil may cause yellowing foliage. Assuming you planted your tree in an appropriate location, contorted white pine care will be minimal. Twisted white pine trees adapt well to both dry and moist growing conditions. However, for best care, plant the tree in a wind-sheltered location. Contorta only requires occasional pruning. Only prune to trim back new growth rather than cutting deeply into the canopy. Of course, contorted white pine care includes trimming off any dieback.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.