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The Norway pine, or red pine, is the state tree of Minnesota. It is also known by its species name, Pinus resinosa. It was designated as the state tree of Minnesota by the state legislature in 1953. This species of pine has red tinted bark and long pine needles, and it can grow quite large, but it typically grows slowly, particularly as it ages.
Interestingly, the state tree of Minnesota has two names. Most people refer to it as a "red pine," yet the people of Minnesota usually refer to it as a "Norway pine" because of its historical significance to the state. When Europeans, specifically large numbers of people from Norway, began to settle in Minnesota, they saw a plenitude of these trees. Since the species resembled trees that were common to Norway, the people began calling them the Norway pine. The name stuck, and the legislature eventually adopted the tree as one of the symbols of Minnesota.
Over the years, the state tree of Minnesota has begun to dwindle in numbers, but they are still quite evident in areas, such as in Central Minnesota. Specifically, Itasca State Park boasts the largest number of Norway pines. Reports indicate that the pines cover approximately 5,000 acres (about 20 square kilometers) of state-owned land in the park.
The red pines, in general, are quite tall, reaching heights of 60 to 90 feet (about 18.2 to 27.4 m). The largest of all the red pines in Minnesota can be found in Chippewa National Forest — one tree is marked by a sign that states that it is 120 feet (about 36.6 m) tall and more than 3 feet (about 0.91 m) wide. It is also estimated to be more than 300 years old. For some, this particular Norway pine is considered the ultimate symbol of the state tree of Minnesota.
Norway pines commonly are used for lumber. Early settlers used it frequently to build homes and buildings for their newly emerging towns. It has also been used to create natural fencing to prevent erosion and reduce the effects of strong winds and heavy snow drifts.
Since the tree is resistant to many forms of disease and pests, it is often planted in home or office landscaping areas. In addition, it is not limited to growth in Minnesota. It also can be found throughout Canada and in the Midwest and Eastern areas of the United States.