The high elevation white pines are able to tolerate and occupy sites that other species cannot. They can be found at the highest elevations forming the treeline on exposed, dry, rocky slopes.
The pines are very stress tolerant. They are well adapted to the inhospitable environmental conditions that exist at high elevation including intense cold, radiation, drought, wind, and blowing snow and ice.
High elevation white pines are often used as symbols of perseverance and tolerance. Many people appreciate their extreme longevity and artistic forms. They have been the motivation of artistic expression in a variety of formats.
These trees are an integral part of watershed hydrology. Their presence on the landscape provides roughness for capturing snowfall and preventing it from blowing away. The forest structure also reduces erosion during the melt period thereby providing clean water and flow for downstream communities.
These species occur on ridge tops and vista points of popular hiking and sight seeing destinations. Many outdoor enthusiasts enjoy regularly visiting these habitats to appreciate the unique flora and fauna they sustain.
These trees play an important role in maintaining slope stability in high elevation areas that are steep and exposed.
High elevation white pine communities are valuable sources of food and cover for wildlife. Bears, squirrels, rodents, and birds are among a few who consume the extremely nutritional seeds and use the trees for cover.
The high elevation white pine species are important in dendrochronology. The long chronologies obtained have been applied in many fields of science including climatology, atmospheric chemistry, geology, and archaeology.
These pines play an important role in forest succession. They are often the first tree species found on high elevation sites after a major disturbance such as a fire. Consequently, these high elevation pine communities facilitate the establishment of less stress tolerant species on some sites.
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