Pine trees grow in forests throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Their cones, which come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes, bear the seeds through which pine trees reproduce. Many pine trees produce large, fat cones, while others produce tiny cones no more than an inch or two long. Small dried pine cones are popular for making crafts such as Christmas ornaments.
The lodgepole pine, common throughout the northern United States and Canada, produces small cones ranging from 0.8 to 1.6 inches in length. They vary in shape from narrow, cylindrical cones to fatter, egg-shaped cones. The lodgepole's dark green needles form in groups of two, according to the British Columbia website. Many Native American tribes, particularly in Western Canada, used the lodgepole pine's wood to build lodges, homes and other structures. They also used the tree's pitch in medicines to cure muscle aches, sore throats and rheumatic pain. Older lodgepole pines are susceptible to mountain pine beetles, which lay eggs in the bark. Many woodland creatures such as voles, squirrels and snowshoe hares rely on this tree for food.
The mugo pine, also known as the Swiss mountain pine, is native to Central and Southern Europe. This tree produces small, dark gray pine cones in clusters of two or four that are never more than two inches long, reports the University of Connecticut plant database. The main identifying feature of these cones is a dark ring around the tip. The mugo pine typically reaches five to 20 feet in height, though specimens have grown as tall as 50 feet. The tree's needles are bright green and one to two inches long. The mugo pine grows slowly but lives to be several hundred years old under the right conditions.
Pitch pines, native to the northeastern United States and Canada, produce small cones usually one to three inches long. This tree typically reaches 50 to 60 feet tall, though a 126-foot specimen was recorded in 1964. Pitch pines usually grow on dry, rocky slopes and ridges and are known for their ability to withstand forest fires. The wood is too weak to be used in furniture building and construction, though it's occasionally used as rough lumber. Making charcoal and other fuel is its most common use. Due to its sturdy, resilient nature, pitch pine is also used in reforestation after fire and disease damage, says the What Tree Is It? site.