Minnesota State Tree

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The Red Pine or Norway Pine is the Minnesota State Tree and is native to northeastern North America. In the Upper Midwest the state tree of Minnesota is often known as the Norway Pine even though it is not native to Norway. Our northern forests are the best places to see the Norway Pine.


Minnesota state tree Norway Pine

This evergreen tree is characterized by tall, straight growth. The crown is conical in young trees, becoming a narrow rounded dome with age.

The bark is thick and gray-brown at the base of the tree, but thin, flaky and bright orange-red in the upper crown.

Some red color may be seen in the fissures of the bark.

The Red Pine is self pruning; there tend not to be dead branches on the trees, and older trees may have very long lengths of branchless trunk below the canopy.

One of the best places to see the Norway pine is in Itasca State Park. About 5,000 acres of Norway Pines can be found there...one of the state's largest stands of this tree.

To explore this area of the state, you could camp in a state park or stay at a resort or hotel in nearby towns including Bemidji, Cass Lake or Walker.

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Some Minnesota State Tree Facts

  • Early settlers in Minnesota called the Red Pine "Norway Pine" because it reminded them of a tree in their home country.
  • Minnesota is the only state that uses the name "Norway Pine" for this tree...most likely because there is still a large Norwegian heritage and tradition here.
  • The Norway Pine is very resistant to disease and insect damage.
  • The Norway Pine is a significant lumber-producing tree; more Norway Pines have been planted in Minnesota than any other tree.

One of the Oldest Norway or
Red Pines is in Itasca State Park

Minnesota State Tree sign in Itasca Park

Our family owns 80 acres of wooded land right next to Itasca State Park. Some of these stately pines grow on our land as well. We, and others in the area--including within the park--were devastated in July of 1995 when a catastrophic wind storm took down many of these beautiful trees.

A news report from that day read:

The 115-mile-per-hour winds blew so ferociously during the July 9–15 storms that old-growth red and white pines snapped like pencils, and whole stands of trees looked like straw scattered across the landscape. More than 7 million trees were bent, broken, or uprooted, and in August a total of 15 counties and the White Earth Indian Reservation were declared federal disaster areas by the President.

My husband, sons, brothers-in-law and nephews spent weeks just clearing the road in to our cabin in the woods. Even now, 13 years later, there are many trails that we used to walk that are still blocked as a result of the blow-down.

Much beauty remains, however, and nature's new growth is evident everywhere in the forest. One of my favorite places to walk among the still-standing majestic pines is in Preacher's Grove in Itasca Park.

Norway Beach, near Cass Lake, is another of my favorite "Red Pine places." I lived a number of my childhood years in Cass Lake and have wonderful memories of picnics on the sugar sand beach that is right along the emerald green forest. We would swim in the crystal clear waters of the lake (also named Cass Lake--like the town) and watch spectacular sunsets as we dried off on the warm sand.

These old growth forests contain some of the few stands of virgin pine left anywhere in the country. Don't miss a trip to this beautiful area, and opportunity to see our beautiful Minnesota state tree, when you visit Minnesota.


Minnesota State Tree

Here are just a few of my favorite quotes about trees. They most certainly apply to our majestic Minnesota State Tree.

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world. ~John Muir (1838-1914)

Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise. ~George Washington Carver (1864-1943)

Going to the woods is going home. ~John Muir (1838-1914)

For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver. ~Martin Luther (1483-1546)

The forest is my loyal friend,
Like God it useth me. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), "Waldeinsamkeit"

Of all man's works of art, a cathedral is greatest. A vast and majestic tree is greater than that. ~Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, 1870

The mission of men there seems to be, like so many busy demons, to drive the forest all out of the country, from every solitary beaver swamp and mountain-side, as soon as possible. ~Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), "Ktaadn," The Maine Woods, 1864

He who plants a tree plants a hope. ~Welsh proverb

Our forests are not for toilet paper. They are worth more standing than cut. That deserves to be defended, not only by native peoples but also by environmentalists. ~Winona LaDuke at the West Coast Ancient Forest Activists Conference in Ashland, Oregon, reported by Patrick Mazza, Jan 1995

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky. We fell them and turn them into newspapers that we may record our emptiness. ~Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

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