Lodgepole Pine

(Pinus contorta)

Slim, straight and fire-friendly
Lodgepole pine is one of the tree species that may need fire to open itscones to release seeds. Fire also leaves cleared beds of ash where new trees can sprout and grow. In fact, without thinning, lodgepole stands can turn into thickets that soon stagnate growth, which can greatly increase the chance of catastrophic fire and epidemic insect infestation.

We have Lewis and Clark to thank for the lodgepole pine’s name. They noted that many native American tribes would travel to the Rocky Mountains to secure “lodgepoles” for teepees and lodges. The lodgepole grows slim and straight, and even today it is preferred for log homes, utility poles and posts. Its pine fiber is excellent for making paper and composite products as well.

Pure and nearly-pure stands of lodgepole pine are found throughout central and eastern Oregon. Lodgepole pine is a pioneer species that rapidly colonizes disturbed sites and often gives way to more shade-tolerant species like ponderosa pine and grand fir. Most lodgepole pine stands develop after fire or logging. They may form climax forests on sites with deep pumice and volcanic ash.

Lodgepole pine forests grow in dense stands with lots of dead trees. They are very susceptible to insect attacks, especially mountain pine beetles, and are frequently threatened by fire. 

The lodgepole pine is an adaptable species that often flourishes where other trees cannot. Lodgepole forests are found in climates with short, dry summers and snowy winters. They commonly occur in frost pockets and on both excessively wet and dry soils.


Stands near the Oregon coast (called shore pine) are not commercially viable, but they are no less important to our economy as they add to the beauty of Oregon’s picturesque coast. The mountain form of the lodgepole, on the other hand, occupies vast areas and is an important timber tree. These forests are typically harvested via clearcutting, shelterwood and seed tree methods that produce even-aged stands.


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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