The National Pine Needle Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation, research and planting of  pine trees.


The National Pine Needle Association was formed in November 1989 by a group of environmental conservationists concerned with increasing the natural population of pine trees.

Through cooperative programs with numerous state-run agencies, our partners at Albany Tree & Property Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency, we hope to plant 1 million pine trees over the next decade to improve the air quality of our nation and to protect the wildlife that call these evergreen forests home.

What are pine trees?

Pine trees are evergreen, coniferous trees that are native to North America and the northern hemisphere.  Although they can be found in a wide range of environments, they tend to grow best in areas with ample water and quality soil.  There are more than 100 species of pines in the US, ranging in size from 10 feet to over 250 feet tall.  Their average lifespan is hundreds of years, with the oldest pine on record living to nearly 5,000 years old.

Distinguishing Features:

Bark – Bark on most pine trees is flaky with jagged edges, which appears similar to scales on animal.

Cones – Pine cones are relatively small.  However, they are very important because they contain the seeds to spur new growth.  Some cones release seeds on their own, while others require intervention from animals breaking them.

Leaves – There are 4 different types of leaves that occur on pines – (1) seed leaves, also known as cotyledons, (2) juvenile leaves, (3) scale leaves, and (4) needles.  Needles are of course the most recognizable of the leaves.  The needles grow in large clusters and can last up to 40 years, although many tend to drop due to high winds and storms.

Importance of Pine Trees

Air Quality

Human presence on Earth creates billions of tons of carbon dioxide each year, which heats up the atmosphere.  Pine trees serve as an important defense for us by using CO2 through photosynthesis and creating fresh oxygen for us to breathe.


Birds, squirrels, butterflies, and moths are just a few of the many animal species that call pine trees home.  Cutting down pines takes away their natural habitat, which can lessen the animals’ ability to survive.


Pines serve a strong commercial purpose as a popular timber used to build homes primarily because they are dense and grow quickly.  Pine trees are sometimes grown thousands at a time in large plantations for business use.  Other times, loggers harvest pines directly from the forest, depending on the local weather conditions.  Lumber from pine trees doesn’t last long sitting outside and is only recommended for use indoors.  Common uses are furniture and structural support.


Paper is made of thin strands of cellulose fibers (from timber) that have been chemically attached to each other. Pine wood is one of the best sources of raw materials for paper products.


Pine trees serve as the undying symbol of Christmas.  In the past, people would wander into the forest in search of the perfect tree to symbolize Christmas.  This was a family event, where the man of the house would cut down the tree and install it in his home for his family to marvel at.  Images of Christmas frequently refer to this famous tree, covered in beautiful lights.

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©2018 The National Pine Needle Association

Updated  March 26, 2007

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