When attempting to identify pine, one of the easiest ways is to count the needle bundles.

isolated pine branch showing needle bundles

This simply means you are going to count the number of needles that are growing together out of the same spot, attached by a small brownish nub. If you do not see several bundles growing from one point then you’re not looking at a pine. You could have cedar, grand fir, spruce, douglas fir, etc.

White pine has 5 needles per bundle. Usually, when I think about using pine, I’m usually looking for white pine. I enjoy the flavor so much more than other pine species, but that is totally subjective.

Other pines:

Lodgepole has 2 needles per bundle. I always think of the poles you need to put up to start a lodge. Maybe that won’t help you, but I imagine two crossed poles serving as the base of a sort of “tipi” lodge. (X)

Ponderosa has 3 needles per bundle. I always remember this one because I loved the show “Bonanza” when I was young. There were three brothers who lived with their father on their ranch called The Ponderosa. If you were a fan you would remember that in later seasons, one of the brothers left and the father adopted a fourth son but for this mnemonic, I’m thinking of the original three. 🙂

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close up of pine needles and a pine cone