Native to western North America where it has an extensive natural range.
A number of different provenances are distinguished which vary appreciably in form and vigour. South coastal origins should not be used, while Alaskan provenances are best suited for use in nursing mixtures. If pure stands are being planted, then Skeena or other interior provenances should be used – expert advice will be helpful.
This is a pioneer and light demanding species which grows well on a wide range of nutrient poor soils from podsols through to peats. Its tolerance of acid peat soils explains its extensive use in upland afforestation and slower growing provenances (e.g. Alaskan LP) can be used as nurses for more sensitive species. It is resistant to winter cold, spring frost, exposure, air pollution and salt-laden winds, therefore suited to upland sites in north and west Britain. Interior provenances will tolerate dry conditions. The more vigorous and coarse coastal provenances can be seriously damaged by wind and snow.
Pests and pathogens
Like other pine species, Lodgepole pine is susceptible to Heterobasidion root and butt rot although losses in plantations growing on peaty soils, especially under conditions of high rainfall, are likely to be negligible. Unthinned stands have also proved vulnerable to the fungal disease red band needle blight. Some provenances are also very susceptible to the shoot pathogen, Ramichloridium pini, although attacks have to be repeated and severe before trees are debilitated or killed.
It is unlikely to be a major species in the future but the tolerance of poor soils and extensive natural regeneration mean that mixtures with other species are likely to develop on many sites.