Sugar Pine

Pinus lambertiana foliage and old open seed cones
Attribution: Richard Sniezko, US Forest Service Dorena Genetic Resource Center [Public domain]
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pinus_lambertiana_opencones.jpg

Latin (group) name: Pinus
Latin (specific) name: Pinus Lambertiana Douglas
Average max height: 160' to 180'
Average diameter: 4' to 7'
Associated state: none
Category: American Woods
The Softwoods - Conifers

The Tree

The eminent forester G. H. Collingwood makes the statement that Sugar Pine is the largest, the tallest and the most magnificent of all the pines. This king of pines reaches a height of 245 feet and diameters of from 12 to 18 feet. Commonly, however, the tree is 160 to 180 feet tall and 4 to 7 feet in diameter. The world’s largest pine at Umpana, Oregon, is 245 feet high and 18 feet 4 inches in diameter. The Sugar Pine has a magnificent straight trunk only slightly tapering and without limbs for from 60 to 80 feet. The limbs are sturdy and gracefully curved. The needles are blue-green with a whitish tinge, five in a bundle, 2% to 4 inches long, somewhat twisted but stiff and strong. The purplish-brown cones, which later turn to a lustrous chestnut-brown, are 12 to 18 inches long, and 4 to 6 inches in diameter when open. They remain on the tree for two or three years and are the longest cones of all the pines. The bark is thick, two to three inches, broken by long irregular furrows and covered with fairly large scales of cinnamon, red or purple-brown color on mature trees. The tree is found in deep moist sandy loam soil at elevations of 1000 to 9000 feet. It requires considerable moisture. When well established, the Sugar Pine resists forest fire damage like the Pitch Pine of the southeastern states, but it is affected by mistletoe growths and White Pine Blister Rust disease.

pine cones
Female Sugar Pine Cones

Common Names in Use

  • Sugar Pine (Calif., Oreg.)
  • Big Pine
  • California Sugar Pine (Calif., lit.)
  • Gigantic Pine (Calif., lit.)
  • Great Sugar Pine
  • Little Sugar Pine
  • Purple-coned Sugar Pine (Calif., lit.)
  • Shade Pine (Calif.)

Growth Range

The growth range of Sugar Pine extends from the Coast and Cascade mountain regions of southern Oregon along the western slopes of the Coast Ranges and the Sierra Nevadas of California into Lower California in Mexico. The heaviest stands and largest trees are found in northern California on the west slope of the Sierra Nevadas at elevations from 4,000 to 7,000 feet.

The Wood

The heartwood of Sugar Pine is light creamy-tan or buff to pale reddish-brown, much lighter in color than the Eastern and Western White Pines. It is, however, frequently discolored with sap stain. The sapwood is medium wide and a creamy-white color. The wood is straight and even-grained, moderately soft, not stiff, relatively coarse but uniform in texture, pleasantly fragrant, non-porus with numerous, conspicuous, small resin ducts which give it a distinctive figure on flat—grain surfaces. When freshly cut small quantities of a sugary gum are exuded. It is easily seasoned without warping or checking, easily worked with tools, glues and holds paint well, does not easily split when nailed, and stays in place very well.


This wood ranks very well with the beautiful White Pines in hundreds of uses, although it is coarser textured. It is one of our finest pines for pattern making because of the increasing scarcity of Northern White Pine, sash, doors, interior and exterior trim, siding, furniture, cabinets, chests, boxes, crates, musical instruments, scientific instruments, shade and map rollers, signs, toys, ship and general construction work.

File References

  ID T Name Size Last modified Actions
107 Sugar Pine.jpg
Attribution: By Willmcw (English Wikipedia) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sugar_Pine.jpg
95.07 KB 07-24-2018
111 Sugar Pine Cones (female)
Female Sugar Pine cones
Reference: Sugarpine.jpg." Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 4 Mar 2017, 16:58 UTC. 23 Jul 2018, 04:11
Attribution: By Richard Sniezko [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
880.49 KB 10-25-2018


  • Shelley E. Schoonover (American Woods) 1951 (Watling & Co. ) Santa Monica, CA 

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Page last modified on Saturday December 3, 2022 12:02:34 PST by admin.

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