Pinus flexilis

Rare Plant Profile – Limber Pine, Pinus flexilis

Have you heard of the Burmis Tree? It was a limber pine tree located in the Crowsnest Pass and it may have been the most photographed tree in Alberta (Alberta Historic Places, 2012). The Burmis Tree was almost 700 years old when it died in the 1970s.

Limber pine (Pinus flexis) is a slow growing five-needled coniferous tree that occurs on dry ridgetops. Often limber pine trees are up to 1000 years old and do not grow very tall due to environmental conditions.

Limber pine is a keystone species and it is listed as Endangered in the Alberta Wildlife Act Regulations due to a decline in the population caused by white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola) (WPBR) and mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) (Alberta Government, 2020). Limber pine play an important role in their ecosystems including creating locally moist conditions and providing a rich source of food for birds and mammals, not to mention the scenic beauty they provide.

Photo from Alberta Historic Places, 2012
Closeup of cone and needles, Photo by L. Hamilton, ANPC
Closeup of Active Rust Cankers on Bark, Photo by L. Hamilton, ANPC
Photo by L. Hamilton, ANPC