- Pinus contorta subsp. contorta (Shore Pine) – Pacific Coast, southern Alaska to California
- Pinus contorta subsp. contorta var. contorta (Shore Pine; syn. P. contorta var. contorta) – Pacific Coast, Alaska to northwest California
- Pinus contorta subsp. contorta var. bolanderi ( Mendocino Shore Pine; syn. P. contorta var. bolanderi) – endemic to Mendocino, California Coast (Near Threatened by fires, development and overland vehicles.)
- Pinus contorta subsp. murrayana (Tamarack Pine or Sierra Lodgepole Pine; syn. P. contorta var. murrayana) – Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada and adjacent mountain ranges, Washington south to the San Bernardino Mountains and Transverse Ranges of Southern California, Spring Mountains in Nevada, and into northern Baja California Peninsular Ranges.
- Pinus contorta subsp. latifolia (Lodgepole Pine; syn. P. contorta var. latifolia) – Rocky Mountains, Yukon to Colorado, Saskatchewan Aspen parkland and boreal forest.
Depending on subspecies, the Lodgepole Pine grows as an evergreen shrub or tree. The shrub form is krummholz and is approximately 1 to 3 metres (3.3 to 9.8 ft) high. The thin and narrow-crowned tree is 40 to 50 metres (130 to 160 ft) high and can achieve up to 2 metres (6.6 ft) diameter at chest height. The murrayana subspecies is the tallest. The crown is rounded and the top of the tree is flattened. In dense forests, the tree's a slim, conical crown. The formation of twin trees is common in some populations in British Columbia. The elastic branches stand upright or overhang and are difficult to break. The branches are covered with short shoots that are easy to remove.
The species name contorta arises from the twisted, bent pines found in the coastal area. Pinus contorta is occasionally known under several English names: Black Pine, Scrub Pine, and Coast Pine. P. contorta subsp. latifolia will hybridise with the closely related Jack Pine - Pinus banksiana.
Needles and buds 
The egg-shaped growth buds are reddish-brown and between 20 and 30 millimetres (0.79 and 1.2 in) long. They are short pointed, slightly rotated, and very resinous. Spring growth starts in beginning of April and the annual growth is completed by early July. The dark and mostly shiny needles are pointed and 4 to 8 centimetres (1.6 to 3.1 in) long and 0.9 to 2 millimetres (0.035 to 0.079 in) wide. The needle edge is weak to clearly serrated. The needles are in pairs on short shoots and rotated about the shoots' longitudinal axes. In Alberta above 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), 1 to 5 needles occur per short shoot. A population with a high proportion of three-needled short shoots occurs in the Yukon. Needles live an average of four to six years, with a maximum of 13 years.
The 3–7 cm cones often need exposure to high temperatures (such as from forest fires) in order to open and release their seeds, though in subsp. murrayana they open as soon as they are mature. The cones have prickles on the scales.
The Pinus contorta as a species is a very dependent on fire as a mode of replacing itself. The bark of the lodgepole pine is fairly thin, minimizing the defense the tree has to fire. The stands are so densely populated that the trees self thin, or out compete, each other leaving dead trees in the stand. These dead trees become a dry ladder fuel to accelerate the fire to the crown of the tree. When the fire reaches the crowns of the trees, it can jump from tree to tree and becomes relatively unstoppable. These stand-replacing fires open the cones, releasing the seeds, and are what most species of lodgepole pine rely on to be able to regenerate.
The fire regime for this species is primarily driven by climate. The fires occur most often after years of drought. Lodgepole Pine occurs from the upper montane to the subalpine region. These types of forests experience a lot of moisture in the form of snow in the winter due to their altitude. The density of the tree stand also prohibits the establishment of an understory. With all of that being said, the likelihood of a surface fire occurring are rare. Thus, infrequent, high severity fires dominate this species.
An example of the climate that plays a huge role in the fire regime of the lodgepole pine is quite complex. There are three different oscillations that play a major role in droughts. These are the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) and El Nino (ENSO). A combination of these oscillation being in effect (+) or not in effect (-) have a global effect on the water available to these forests. So when the AMO +, ENSO – and PDO -, there is going to be a drought and likely a severe subalpine fire.
Suillus tomentosus, a fungus, produces specialized structures called tuberculate ectomycorrhizae with the roots of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia). These structures have been shown to be the location of concentrations of nitrogen fixing bacteria which contribute a significant amount of nitrogen to tree growth and allow the pines to colonize nutrient-poor sites.
As an invasive species 
Pinus contorta is a serious invasive species wilding conifer, along with several other western North American pine species, in New Zealand. It is listed on the National Pest Plant Accord and is prohibited from sale, commercial propagation and distribution.
Lodgepole pine is named for its common use in the Native American tipi. A typical tipi is constructed with 15-18 lodgepole pines. The long, straight, and lightweight characteristics of the species made it ideal for horse transport in nomadic buffalo hunting cultures. Tribes made long journeys across the plains to secure lodgepole pines that only grew in mountainous areas. In Minnesota, other species such as red pine would be used in tipis, though they were generally thicker, heavier, and more cumbersome to transport than lodgepole pine.
Many people still use lodgepole pine today for erecting tipis at private homes, on American Indian reservations, or powwows. The pines may be harvested for tipi poles on National Forests, provided the harvester secures a permit to cut live trees for ceremonial or traditional purposes. The Bighorn Mountains, the Black Hills, and the Snowy Range of Wyoming are popular tipi pole harvesting areas for tipi enthusiasts and Native Americans living on plains reservations in North and South Dakota.
The horticulture industry grows Pinus contorta subsp. contorta and P. contorta subsp. murrayana for gardens and native plants landscapes. The ssp. contorta Shore Pine's smaller selections are also used in 'large bonsai' specimens and container gardening.
- Conifer Specialist Group (1998). Pinus contorta. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
- Moore, Gerry; Kershner, Bruce; Craig Tufts; Daniel Mathews; Gil Nelson; Spellenberg, Richard; Thieret, John W.; Terry Purinton; Block, Andrew (2008). National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Trees of North America. New York: Sterling. p. 91. ISBN 1-4027-3875-7.
- Flora of North America
- GRIN Taxonomy for Plants
- Conifer Specialist Group (1998). Pinus contorta var. bolanderi. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
- Johnson, Kershaw, MacKinnon, Pojar (1995). Plants of the Western Boreal Forest and Aspen Parkland. Edmonton AB: Lonepine publishing. p. 27. ISBN 1-55105-058-7.
- "Pinus Contorta". Flora of North America. Retrieved 2010-09-12.
- Schütt, Weisgerber; Schuck, Lang; Stimm, Roloff (2008). Lexikon der Nadelbäume. Hamburg: Nikol. pp. 365–367. ISBN 3-933203-80-5.
- Schoennagel, Tania; Thomas Veblen (2004). "The Interaction of Fire, Fuels and Climate across Rocky Mountain Forests". BioScience 54 (7): 661–76. doi:10.1641/0006-3568(2004)054[0661:TIOFFA]2.0.CO;2. ISSN 0006-3568. Unknown parameter
- Kauffman, J. Boone (Aug 2004). "Death Rides the Forest: Perceptions of Fire, Land Use and Ecological Restoration of Western Forests". Conservation Biology 18 (4): 878–82. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.545_1.x. Retrieved 24 Feb. 2010.
- Paul, L.R.; Chapman, B.K.; Chanway, C.P. (2007). "Nitrogen Fixation Associated with Suillus tomentosus Tuberculate Ectomycorrhizae on Pinus contorta var. latifolia". Annals of Botany 99 (6): 1101–1109. doi:10.1093/aob/mcm061. PMC 3243579. PMID 17468111.
- Chapman, W.K.; Paul, L.R. (2012). "Evidence that Northern Pioneering Pines with Tuberculate Mycorrhizae are Unaffected by Varying Soil Nitrogen Levels". Microbial Ecology 64: Open Access. doi:10.1007/s00248-012-0076-0.
- Coops, Nicholas C.; Waring, Richard H. (March 2011). "A process-based approach to estimate lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl.) distribution in the Pacific Northwest under climate change". Climatic Change 105 (1–2): 313–328. doi:10.1007/s10584-010-9861-2.
- Rudolf, John Collins (28 February 2011). "Climate Change Takes Toll on the Lodgepole Pine". Green: A Blog About Energy and the Environment. New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-01.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Pinus contorta|
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