Height 3 to 15 m
Needles in clumps of 5
Lifespan up to 1000 years
"It is better to bend than to break." Limber pine takes this proverb seriously. It gets its name from its flexible branches designed to withstand snow and ice.
In B.C., this tree is found scattered along the west slopes of the southern Rockies. In Yoho it can be found along the Kicking Horse Valley and near Monarch Campground.
Limber pine need help to spread their wingless seeds. The Clark’s nutcracker provides that help. It uses its sharp pointy beak to pluck the seeds out of the cones, eats some and then stores the leftovers in the ground for later. The seeds it forgets to collect grow into new trees.
Where to see
Limber pine grows at low elevations and is found at the west end of the park and near the village of Field.
Why is the limber pine in danger?
Limber pine is threatened by:
- White pine blister rust, an introduced fungus that affects all 5 needled pines
- Mountain pine beetle, a native species that has spread up slope due to climate warming
- Fire suppression, which has created denser forests with fewer open spaces for this shade-intolerant species
- Climate change
What are we doing to help this species?
Parks Canada is helping to recover limber pine in a number of ways:
- creating a rust-resistant forest. Seeds are collected from trees that are naturally resistant to white pine blister rust. They are sprouted in a nursery and planted back into the park.
- using prescribed fire to clear spaces for Limber Pine to grow, and
- putting pheromone patches on trees to deter mountain pine beetles. These chemicals signal that the tree is already full of beetles.