The eastern white pine is a native conifer of eastern North America, where it has often grown to a height of 160 to 180 feet. It is the tallest tree east of the Rockies and reportedly can live 400 years. The Iroquois Indians called it the “tree of peace.” It likes well-drained soil, a cool and humid climate.
The cones are three to six inches long and have smooth scales. Some needles, which grow in bundles of five, are lost annually. In St. Louis eastern white pine grows to 60-80 feet tall, with a spread of 20-40 feet. They prefer full sun but are sensitive to salt run-off. It is considered the best pine for the St. Louis area.
During the days of sailing ships, early American settlers reported these remarkable trees to the King of England. He claimed all of the largest ones for the Royal Navy. During the American Revolution Americans made great sport of cutting them down and hauling off the “king’s trees.”