Pinus contorta var. latifolia 'Chief Joseph'

Common Name: beach pine 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Pinaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average to dry, well-draining soils in full sun. This tree is very adaptable, and will tolerate urban pollution, occasional drought and poor soils. However, this plant does not tolerate any level of shade or consistently wet soils. Hardy from Zones 3-8.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pinus contorta var. latifolia, commonly known as lodgepole pine, is a large evergreen conifer native to the inland mountain forests of western Canada south into the Rocky Mountains of the United States. This species is able to grow where other conifers would never survive, including nutrient poor soils, acidic bogs, and hot geyser basins. Lodgepole pine is dependent on fire for dispersal. The heat triggers the cones to open and release the enclosed seeds. Trees can reach over 100' tall and 20' wide, with a pyramidal to columnar habit and relatively open, horizontal branching structure.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for pines.

The specific epithet contorta means twisted and refers to the gnarled and crooked shape this species can take on in extremely windy environments. The infraspecific epithet latifolia means wide leaves and refers to the width of the foliage compared to other varieties of Pinus contorta.

The common name lodgepole pine refers to the use of this tree for teepee poles by native peoples of the Great Plains. It has remained an important source of timber for log cabins, teepees, and other structures.

'Chief Joseph' is a slow-growing dwarf cultivar with distinctive yellow winter color. In the spring and summer the needles are a bright yellowish-green color, but change to golden yellow as temperatures drop and fall turns to winter. This is a truly dwarf conifer, only growing 4-6" per year. It has a generally upright habit, but can take on a slightly crooked form with age. This specimen was discovered by nursery grower Doug Will, who found it growing in the Wallowa Mountains of eastern Oregon. It is named for the famed Chief Joseph, who led the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce tribe during a tumultuous period of forced relocation by the United States federal government in the latter half of the 1800s.


No major pest or disease problems.


A spectacular specimen or accent plant. Use in rock or gravel gardens, conifer gardens, or mixed border plantings.