TREES & plants

Jack pine

Jack pine cones.

Jack pine is very hardy and well suited to northern climates.  It can be used in windbreaks, although it is susceptible to ice storm damage and may be difficult to find in nurseries. 

This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

Botanical name: 
Pinus banksiana
All Common Names: 
jack pine
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area, 
  • Illinois, 
  • North America
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Shade tree, 
  • Specimen, 
  • Windbreak
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet), 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
Mature Height: 
35-50 feet
Mature Width: 
10-20 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 2, 
  • Zone 3, 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil, 
  • Moist, well-drained soil, 
  • Sandy soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Prefers
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Planting Considerations: 
  • Highly susceptible to ice damage, 
  • May be difficult to find in nurseries
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Attractive bark
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter, 
  • Mid winter, 
  • Late winter, 
  • Early spring, 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall, 
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Open, 
  • Pyramidal
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
Transplants Well: 
  • No
  • Browsers, 
  • Moths, 
  • Small mammals, 
  • Songbirds
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

Transplants easily, due to a fairly shallow root system.
Avoid wet soils.

Disease, pests, and problems

Windthrow can be a problem due to the shallow root system of this tree.
Not as susceptible to pests as other pines, but sawflies, tussock moth and needle casts are potential problems.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota and northward into Canada.

Bark color and texture 

Thin and flaky when young, maturing into thick plates wiht age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Evergreen needles in bundles of 2; short (3/4 to 2inches long) and slightly twisted.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Monoecious, separate male and female flowers.  Not ornamentally important.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Woody cones, 1 to 3 inches long; cones remain closed.

Pinus banksiana or Jack pine