Tree with short, twisted or crooked trunk and irregular, spreading crown; a shrub at timberline; foliage has sweetish taste and odor. Needles evergreen, crowded at ends of twigs; 1.5-2.8 in (4-7 cm) long. Height: 20-50 ft (6-15 m). Diameter: 1-2 ft (0.3-0.6 m).
Dry, rocky soils on exposed slopes and ridges in subalpine zone to timberline; sometimes forms pure stands and thickets.
Central British Columbia, east to southwestern Alberta, south to western Wyoming and west to central California. At 4,500-7,000 ft (1,372-2,134 m) in north; at 8,000-12,000 ft (2,438-3,658 m) in south.
American Indians gathered the cones and ate the seeds of this species. Whitebark pine is considered the most primitive native pine because its cones do not open until they decay.