Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) grows in the Rocky Mountains, from Alaska tonorthern New
Mexico, as well as in the Black Hills, the Sierra Nevada mountains and on thePacific Coast.
This tree provided poles that were used by Native Americans for structuralsupports for teepees
and lodges; hence the common name of lodgepole.
Lodgepole pine trees are not very large. In the Rockies, they may reach 80 feetin height, but
seldom exceed 14 inches in diameter. The trees can grow in full sunlight and soare often seen as
the first tree species growing after a forest fire. Many stands are verydensely populated when young.
A unique characteristic of this wood is that the tangential surface (the wideface of a flatsawn
piece of lumber) has a multitude of dimples. The dimples are not depressions inthe surface but are differences in light reflection. These dimples show upespecially when the lighting is at an
low angle or when the wood is stained. On the other hand, ponderosa pine, that grows in the same area,has very few dimples.
Historically, lodgepole pine has been used for railroad ties, mine timber, logcabins, furniture and
cabinets, and a myriad of local uses. It has minimal natural decay and insectresistance, so
outdoor uses require pressure treating to achieve long life. Today, knotty pinepaneling is an
important use, as well as cabinetry and millwork. Local uses as utility lumberare important as
well. Because many of the lodgepole pine trees are dead or dying from themountain pine beetle
(MPB) attack, a blue stain fungus is found in many trees and logs; the lumberproduced from these logs is stained but looks quite striking and is sometimessold as Denim Pine, a trademark of the Denim Pine Marketing Assn). Blue stain is not rot or decay.
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