Natural sites for the species are at elevations between 2000 and 4000 feet on red and yellow and gray-brown podzolic soils derived from schist, gneiss, and granite rocks. On such areas, the species often replaced diseased American chestnut in openings in the forest made by the harvest of the commercially useful hardwood tree. By the mid 1930s, white pine, along with yellow-poplar, chestnut oak, and pignut hickory filled in the woodlands where chestnut trees were killed by the fungus Endothia parasitica.
Preferred sites for white pine are the mesic lands along rivers and streams. Dry southern and western exposures are considered least favorable; but even there white pine often does well in competition with other indigenous conifers such as pitch and Virginia pines. Some trees persist in locally dry sites where, it is believed, intraspecific grafting of roots enables movement of moisture from adjacent wetter soils into trees growing in more xeric situations.
In much of the white pine range in the South, trees grow as much as 16 inches in diameter and 70 feet tall in 35 years. Often, diameter increment exceeds 3 inches in 10 years.
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