I was wondering what would be the fastest growing pine for a zone 6 climate? White Pine?
thank you this is my first post on the tree forum.
Yes, white pine. But, and this is very important, if you are really seriously interested in the fastest growth, you need to get white pine from the "provenance," or seed source, or the "strain" that is the fastest growing for your area.
For most areas within white pine's natural range, that tends to be from seed from trees growing in your local area. However, you need to be sure that any local seed you collect, or which was used to produce the seedlings/trees you buy, was not collected from trees that were planted from seed brought in from another area. This is quite common, so collecting seed from local trees does not mean that the "provenance" is really local. The best thing would be to get permission from a land owner whose trees you can see are growing very well to collect some seedlings from them. If you get trees from your Michigan Forestry Dept I would guess that they were selected with care--you will be able to ask and find out what the seed source is. I am sure that someone at MSU (My Alma Mater) will know what are the best seed sources for white pine in different parts of MI.
But sometimes there are some real surprizes in which seed source is best. The most notable example I know of is white pine growing just outside Parsons, WV. Some white pine were planted along Clover Run about 50 years ago and these trees are now something like 125 feet tall. The seeds for these trees were collected from near Asheville, NC. Trees from local seed sources, for comparison, would be only about 90 feet tall or less. The MD forestry Dept is so impressed with these Clover Run trees that they are working to breed this strain into their seed orchard for local planting.
Wow spruce-125' in 50 yrs. That's impressive. Good all-around advice, and yes, white pine is the obvious right answer to this query.
Just a little more follow up info. A very important factor in how fast any tree grows is the growing site/soil. If you are contemplating planting a grove of trees or a forest stand, the trees will be much taller than if you are planting a tree in the open.
For forest plantings there is something called a "site index" (the height growth in 50 years) available for the different soil types--see your county ASCS for your local soil survey book. For the poorer soils the site index for white pine in MI might be something like 70 feet, and for the best, 110 or better. The site index is based on a good strain of local white pine. Exceptionally fast growing strains can beat the nominal site index figures.
For impressive growth rates, I think tuliptree in places in NC can grow over 140' in 50 years. I think I read about one stand somewhere that had 160', but I am not sure. The Clover Run stand of white pine near Parsons, WV is growing on a bottomland site that might be a class 1 soil--the very best. I don't have a soil survey map of that area, so I really don't know for sure.
Now if we are talking about "pine' trees in the more general sense--the pine family--the next best choice for a fast growing tree for MI is Norway spruce. The best strains on the best soils can do up to 120 feet in 50 years after reaching a height of 4.5 feet. Norway spruce can make an especially beautiful forest planting. For maximum aesthetic appeal, the dead lower limbs should be pruned off both white pine and Norway spruce as the stand grows up. Good exercise for the hardy!
Was it Norway spruce that made such fast growth? Here the fastest growing pine is perhaps not the best ornamental, but it tolerates heat, drought, excess moisture and the poorest of clay soils. That is the loblolly pine. I have had no experience with the loblolly pine/pitch pine cross but it is supposed to be superior.
I am among the few that think pines make the best landscaping trees. They still look alive when everything else is bare and depressing, and the needles make good mulch. From my experience dealing with loblolly,slash, and longleaf pines, wide spacing is better. Wide spacing promotes a thicker trunk that is less susceptible to breaking in high winds or bending under snow load.
I like some pines, but I'd take a western hemlock any day, due to the bitsy cones that don't whack mower blades or turn ankles, and the the fine texture.
But there are a few pines that I like.
I'd avoid Ponderosa if at all possible in close proximity to a house due to the abundance of debris they drop when older.
You have loblolly growing that fast in the midwest, Z 5 or 6? Where, exactly are you? I have seen these growing amazingly in the south--faster than white pine and Norway spruce--up to central VA, but further north around Winchester, etc. they do not grow so fast. And they really can't be grown where my timberland is, in Far Western MD on the Allegheny Plateau, Z5. I am not familiar with the hybrid.
Spruceman, a grove of Norway spruces was planted ~1910 (by someone with a passion for Eurasian trees) close to where I grew up in western MD. By 1972, the tallest two were at least 115' tall & 32'+ dbh. These were the second tallest trees in the immediate area (English elms planted by the same guy were 125'+ & nearly 4' dbh). An open-grown European larch was ~100' branched to the ground. The one Nordmann fir was a solid 90'. Many Norway maples, the biggest ~90' & nearly 3' dbh. Also a White mulberry w/a double trunk, one leaning alittle but the other almost resting on the ground. Each trunk was easily 3' dbh. This gives an idea of growth-rates in what is good farming loam.
Most were then cut down in the house-building craze. The elms got DED. The Nordmann at my place thrived until done in by lightning ~1985. One Norway maple still survives, its trunk shaded by a garage (trunk-bark cracking after the late 70's winters had killed all the remaining ones).
Thank you everyone for the input. Spruce, what I want to do is grow 1 or 2 in containers for now. My I don't plan on being in my current house for much longer. Some day when I have more land I will put them in the ground.
thank you again,
Thanks for telling me the story--I have never heard of that Norway spruce planting before. A few years ago I made a systematic attempt to find all the older Norway spruce plantings I could, and one time I was told about one up in NH and searched for two days for it until I finally decided that it had been cut down.
The oldest planting I know of is called "the Rothkugel," which was planted in 1907, but it was not planted as a pure stand, and it is now a stand of small groves and scattered trees 140 to 150 feet tall. But these trees do not seem to me to be the best strain, and they are growing on a class 3 soil, which is not the best. If you are ever in the east/central part of WV, it is on the south side or state route 28 just east of Bartow, WV. There is a very small turnout, and a sign telling about the planting. If you can, walk all the way up the shallow ravine and zig-zag to the left on the top of the flat and angle to the north and north west, you can see more trees. But they need a better parking area--it is terrible. There are a few old European larch here and there up on the top also. It is worth seeing.
The next best stand I know of, planted much later--around 1932, I believe--is near Galdy, WV. It is on the road (the upper side and up a steep bank) that goes past the gas pumping station--if you stop at the little store in Glady they can tell you which turn to take. These trees, if you really look at them and can see beyond all the over-topped and dead trees, are quite something. I would guess they are something over 140 feet tall and still growing fast.
The Rothkugel will probably never be cut--it is on National Forest land and it has historical importance for the history of American forstry. But most of the other nice stands of NS I know of will probably be cut long before they are mature and their potential can be realized. That is a shame. I wish there was some way I could ensure the preservation of my own NS stands after I am gone, but I know that is most likely impossible. They have really wonderful potential.
"I wish there was some way I could ensure the preservation of my own NS stands after I am gone, but I know that is most likely impossible"
Can you will them to a forestry research institition, with conditions on their preservation for growth studies?
Good question--I have thought about that kind of option, and similar kinds of things, but the reality is that this kind of thing is almost impossible, unless the circumstances are just right and everything works together.
One story that was really big in the D.C. area a few years ago was the fate of the "Belt Woods." A man who loved trees had this woodland that was apparently cut early in colonial times and then never touched. It was a mixture of 200 and maybe even 300 year old tuliptree, white oak, and red oak, with a few other trees here and there. Really spectacular. The man was also devoutly religious, so he left his entire estate to his church, with the condition that the best part of his woods be preserved in perpetuity. Well, shortly after his death, his beloved church said that they could not afford to keep the woods--they had to sell it for development. The expenses of looking after the woods were too high. It didn't matter that his estate was very large, including a great deal of other land, and the church had access to all of it. They would not spend anything for the taxes on the land (I can't imagine what the other expenses were, unless there was a liability issue if one of the great trees fell down onto adjacent land).
Anyway, there were two groves, a "North" and a "South." The North was sold, cut, and developed and there was a big hue and cry throughout the region and last I heard, some foundation was trying to buy the South Grove to preserve it. I moved to Winchester about 5 years ago and have not heard anything and have not been back to see if the grove is still there. I used to visit two or three times a year--it was about an hours drive away, just to walk among the great old trees.
As for some forestry school, the issues are how close is it to some forestry school, what are their research interests, what their other priorities will be in the future. In addition, non-native species are really anathema here in the US. Dr. John Genys was a professor at the U. Of MD and did research on tree improvement and did provenance trials. He had a special interest in Norway Spruce and wanted to do a new trial. I collected seed from a large number of sources in the MD, PA, WV area and in addition got a number of other organizations to make donations from European sources. I put in a lot of work for this trial as did Dr. Genys. Well, after all that work, the people at the MD State Nursery effectively vetoed his trial by first not watering the seedlings for him, and then when they moved the nursery they did not inform him and plowed under the surviving seedlings. I suspect because they were Norway spruce, a tree the so called "Heritage" unit in the MD DNR deems inappropriate for planting in MD. I am disgusted, but then maybe you read my previous rant on this topic.
We also have an organization called the Nature Conservancy, but of course they would have no interest in a Norway spruce planting. People donate land to them with the idea that it will be preserved, but the NC only preserves land that has really special ecological significance, and any property they hold will be sold if they find something else more rare and special to preserve.
I donÂt think there is any way anyone can have any favorite land of theirs preserved, unless it is really fine redwood land adjacent to one of the redwood parks.
Well forgive my long story about something that is a bit off topic--sorry.
Spruceman, thanks for your reply -- very interesting. I should have said above 32 inch dbh for those long-gone Norway spruces.
There are some old, impressive Norways spruces in MD cemetaries, Rose Hill & Rest Haven in Hagerstown, and especially the Antietam Battlefield National cemetary in Sharpsburg where some are prb'ly 80+ yrs old.
You should be able to grow Loblolly & maybe even Longleaf pines in Winchester -- I have both here (only 3 yrs) and also the Loblolly/Pitch hybrid from Musserforests. The Lob & hybrid grow all summer into early Sept. Two of my Longleaf seedlings even have lateral buds now, so I should get branch growth this season! I'm also experimenting w/Jeffrey & Ponderosa pine, but these could eventually be problematic w/needlecast issues. A link to a pic of the Jeffrey is below:
Andy, pines can be very tricky to grow in containers. They are naturally tap rooted and are prone to have circling roots and becoming root bound. That's definitely not what you want with a tall pine. I have some slash pine seedlings growing now in some containers I bought that are coated with "SpinOut" (copper hydroxide). I'll see later in the season how well it worked. I have heard of people painting the inside of containers with marine paint that contains copper, but I have never done it.
Yes, we can grow loblolly pine here, but it does not really grow that well. Having seen how it grows further south, I have a hard time growing it here and seeing it not be really happy.
As for big, old NS trees--I have done a search for those also. The best way to do that is to get on the AFA website and look up the largest Norway spruce trees for each state. The one that is the national champion is on the campus of Hamilton College, in NY. I consider myself responsible for its being named the national champion, having arranged for the foresters to go out and measure it, etc., but during the registration process the AFA found out that it had actually been previously nominated and my name was expunged. This tree is about 125 feet tall and something like 5 feet in diameter. Hamilton College thinks it was planted ca 1870. The most beautiful one I know, but not so large, is in Upper Marlboro, MD. I would guess it is about 90 feet tall and close to 4' in diameter. I would guess it is still listed in the MD register of Champion trees (it is not the champ, but a "runner-up"), where you can get the exact dimensions. The best open grown NS I know of are in an area East of Syracuse, NY. Towns like Casanovia has a bunch as does Clinton, NY, where Hamilton C. is located. The campus has several other large ones besides the national Champion. I also saw the prior national champ, which is in Central, PA. I am sure you can look that up in the PA big tree register. It is, however, a little off the beaten track and I had a hard time finding it.
In Far western MD there are some large ones in Accident, MD. There is a row planted next to what was, the last Time I was there, a B&B, on the Bittinger Rd, I think, and one or two of these are massive. There is a little grove off the highway as one heads towards Canaan Valley (actually there are two groves close together, but it is the most southerly one) where if you walk around for a while you can find some really big and tall ones on the edge of the planting that are almost "open grown." There is a wide parking turnoff, which makes this little grove easy to visit. Actually these two groves are part of a very extenside National Forest planting done in the 30's, but over most of the area the soil is so poor that the growth is very sub-par.
I have seen those at Antietam--they are nice, but not among the largest or best I have seen. Yes, I am always stopping at cemetaries also.
I mispoke in my last post. The national champ NS at Hamilton college was planted about 1835 (according to guesses based on local history), not 1870. I hasten to add this correction because many people think NS is short lived. I know of a number of others planted about that same time, but none older, although from what I have been told, a few were planted during colonial times. But I don't know if any of these are still alive.
Does anyone else have the problem that we have here with conifers. Here the soils get supersaturated then we have high winds and they topple over. There are very few old overgreens in my area.
Is it just a problem with conifers? A high water table will restrict the depth of roots if it persists for more than a relatively short period of time. But it should affect all trees, not just conifers. Also trees can be blown over more easily when the water table is actually high. Is that most often in the winter when other kinds of trees have lost their leaves and don't catch so much wind?
I would be surprized if all your soils are like this--do you live in an area where everything is flat? Was your area under the last ice age's glaciers? If so, I would be surprized if this kind of problem were widespread.
Anyway, this is interesting--tell me more about the situation/problem.
It's a common problem on heavy wet clay soils in parts of upland Britain - the rooting depth is only about 10-15cm, with the clay below that level permanently saturated and anaerobic. Sitka Spruce plantations growing on these soils commonly topple over by the time they are 40 years old or so (they are then harvested for pulpwood and replanted)
Dawn Redwood 'Gold Rush' is a fast growing tree which is supposed to do fine in zone 5 and 6. have you considered planting one of those trees in an area which maintains plenty of moisture in the soil?
For better drained and only moderately moist soil areas have you planted any Thuja 'Green Giant' fast growers?
I know these two tree cultivars are not pines, but they do grow very tall, and are quite intersting trees that can also grow in a semi shade location or in full sun
Spruce, have you thought about putting a conservation easement on your land? Conservation easements are usually placed, with a local land trust holding the easement, on lands having conservation, riparian, historical, etc., interests. The land owner retains ownership, and the land can be sold in the future, with the easement. I don't know how much land you own (nor do I really care), but if it's 10 acres or more, and heavily planted with interesting trees, you might be able to interest a local land trust. Easements come in many "flavors", including agricultural, forestry and conservation, and the wording and degree of protection is written up for each property - there isn't (nor should there be) a "one-size-fits-all" easement. Yours could be written to preserve the things that matter to you, maybe allowing for some limited logging as needed for the trees, but not allowing clear cutting, development, etc. In general, unless future home sites are reserved, no other building would be permitted. The easement is recorded with the deed to the property, and continues with the property for the lifetime of the deed. Changes CAN be made, but are done with difficulty, and only with the consent of the land trust and the land owner. This year is a very favorable time to do this as Congress passed a new law at the end of last year giving better tax breaks (50% vs. 30%) over a much longer period of time for conservation easements - you may get a tax break on the appraised value of the land before the easement and after, esp. if the land in your area is under heavy development pressure, but that's something to talk to a knowledgable tax person about - but at the moment, the tax advantages expire as of 31 Dec., 2007. Not knowing your circumstances, I can't say if that would help protect your trees or not, but it's a possibility.
I have heard of that kind of arrangement. From what I understand in MD what I would be selling would be "development rights," which would prohibit development of many kinds, but would not restrict the furure owners concerning other uses of the land. But I will check this out and see if other provisions can be written in.
Of course I cannot do anything that would overall decrease the value of the property--if my wife outlives me I want to make sure she has everything she needs.
My main timberland is about 224 acres in one parcel and 58 in another just across the road, and one of the good things about these is that they include some substantial high ecological value wetlands--really wonderful! I will do some checking and see just what provisions are possible. Of course regulations protect the wetlands anyway. In fact the State has identified these as requiring an extra layer of protection beyond what most wetlands are afforded ("wetlands of special concern").
The Norway spruce groves would be of interest to few people, but some, like me, might want to see what the ultimate potential is. These are on good class 2 soils and have what is at least a moderately good (I think better than most) strain of NS growing. In addition they have been given special care--thinning and pruning. They will soon be too large for pulpwood (18" dia) and there is no local market for spruce sawlogs so the incentive for someone to cut them after I am gone will be reduced.
I live 100 miles east of St. Louis Missouri and 60 miles west of Vincennes, Indiana. We are considered a solid zone 5. Here the ground is primarily rolling to flat prairies. The flat prairies are so flat that drainage is a tremendous problem. Our soils are primarily clay and frequent drought and supersatured soils are common as well. Evergreen trees are particularly susceptible as they have more wind resistance. All trees here are prone to that phenomena. It is a struggle to grow the plants that I love so much.
They seem to be using almost anything for pulpwood now -- I actually saw an 18-wheel timber-truck on the interstate the other day loaded with Ailanthus trunks! Prb'ly cut from right off the interstate medians.
Spuceman, there's a long street (Hamilton Blvd?) in north Hagerstown, MD that has such an "easement" concerning the protection of trees & the previous owners (circa ~1920). This is easily the best landscaped residential street in the city. Fortunately, most of the trees are native oaks (many other species scattered around, tho). The largest are typically 80-100' tall & some close to the houses. Despite such "danger" including thunderstorms w/100 mph winds, ice-storms, etc, looking at these mature trees show little significant damage anywhere. The high density seems to break up winds & provide self-protection.
I think chainsaws & bulldozers are by far the most destructive threats to trees...
Spruce, if you e-mail me (email@example.com), I can tell you a bit more - I don't want to high-jack the post with extraneous information.
Beng, more power to ANYONE who has a use for Ailanthus trees!! There are a LOT of wood chips (mixed species, as far as I can tell) created and shipped out of a local town. I think some go for OSB and other such production. I have been told that some goes in RR cars to the coast and is shipped overseas for such production also - which tells you a bit about economies and relative values!
The amount of clear-cutting for new homes around here is frightening. It's also one reason I know a bit about conservation easements, as some of us work to preserve a little of what enticed us to move here, before it all gets paved over!!!
Since this thread has become quite wide-ranging, I'd like to concur with you Spruce, on the Norway spruce being an outstanding conifer! The town where I grew up had a long row of mature NS that were originally a farmers windbreak. We used to climb these trees constantly. We'd try to get to the very top and leave our bright red hooded sweatshirts up in the limbs to see how high we were when we got back down. Much mindless fun, even with the pitch-stained hands that were always a part of this.
Good luck with preserving your plantings for posterity. Sounds like a very cool place.
"Sounds like a very cool place"
Literally, as well as figuratively . . . tall tree groves do keep the air beneath them nice and cool in summer ;-)
Are you zone 6A or 6B? If 6B, I would recommed the Loblolly pine. I have several and they have proven to be very fast growing.
If near the 6B/7A zone (which I am), I would also recommend the Slash Pine or Longleaf pine. I have those as well and they are fast growing.