This beautiful pine is found at high elevations, on ridges, exposed slopes, and meadows. It usually grows between 9,000 and 11,000 feet in the Sierra, and from 8,500 to 9,500 feet in the Klamath Ranges and on Mount Shasta. Shrubby form (krummholz), grows to about 12,000 feet. Outside of California, whitebark pine extends north in Cascades into British Columbia, and down the northern Rockies into Wyoming and Nevada. Whitebark pine may occur with lodgepole, limber, foxtail, or western white pines; red fir, subalpine fir, Engelmann spruce, and mountain hemlock; and can grow to 60 feet, though is usually smaller. It is often multi-stemmed with upswept limbs. Trunks are frequently curved at base due to snow load. Whitebark pine is long-lived, to over 1000 years.
Female strobili (cones) are infrequently seen, as they are diligently harvested by Clark's nutcrackers.
Raspberry-like male strobili
Clark's nutcracker harvests the seeds and caches large quantities in the ground for year-round nourishment and distribution.
Shrub form of whitebark pine near Mount Humphreys, John Muir Wilderness
Near top of Mount Eddy, Shasta-Trinity National Forest
MeGee Pass, Inyo National Forest
Warner Mountains, northeast California
Both forms of whitebark pine growing together east of Taboose Pass, Inyo National Forest