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Why Is Maine Called the Pine Tree State?

Maine is affectionately known as the Pine Tree State due to its vast forests, with pine trees covering about 83% of its wilderness. These evergreens are not just a symbol of the state's natural beauty, but also a testament to its rich lumber history. How did this nickname shape Maine's identity and heritage? Explore the roots of Maine's arboreal emblem.
Esther Ejim
Esther Ejim

The "Pine Tree State” is one of the several nicknames for the state of Maine. The reason why Maine is referred to as the “Pine Tree State” is because it is a direct reference to the abundant pine forests located in the state. Maine in general is largely covered by an extensive growth of forest. Approximately 90 percent of the state is covered by various trees including birch, spruce and fir. Maine is called the "Pine Tree State" to the exclusion of other trees and plants because pine trees are quite abundant and a beautiful sight to behold. This state has a number of white pine forests, both commercial and natural, where the beauty of the trees is described by many as breathtaking.

This aesthetic quality of the pine trees and their ubiquity in the state is the primary reason behind the adoption of the Eastern white pine tree as the official state tree. The official state flower is the white pine cone and tassel. These are some reasons why Maine is known as the “Pine Tree State.” The symbol of the pine tree appears on several official state items. For instance, the pine tree is depicted on the state seal as well as on the state flag. The pine tree is also a source of a thriving industry in Maine, as it is raised in commercial quantities and used in making wood-related items like pulp, paper and toothpicks. These industries contribute to the sustenance and growth of the economy of the state.

The shipbuiding industry thrived in Maine due of abundant timber.
The shipbuiding industry thrived in Maine due of abundant timber.

Another nickname for the state is “The Lumber State,” due to its large-scale production of lumber and other wood-related products. The heavy forestation of the state has led to the establishment of a thriving lumber industry, which serves as a source of employment. It also brings important revenue to the state through the export of lumber products. Some of the biggest paper mills in the U.S. are located in the state of Maine, and their products are distributed to different parts of the country as well as internationally.

Almost 90 percent of Maine is covered by trees, including pines.
Almost 90 percent of Maine is covered by trees, including pines.

In the early days, when Maine was still a part of the colonies, it had a thriving shipbuilding industry. This business was made possible by the abundant timber reserves in the state. Other types of vessels, like canoes, were also produced in the state. Maine is also called “The Switzerland of America” due to its scenic mountainous terrains and the snowfall.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Maine referred to as the Pine Tree State?

Maine is known as the Pine Tree State due to its abundant forests, with the Eastern White Pine being particularly symbolic and historically significant. These trees covered much of Maine's landscape when European settlers arrived and played a crucial role in shipbuilding and other industries. The state's affinity for the pine is also reflected in its flag, seal, and nickname, celebrating the tree's importance to Maine's heritage and economy.

What percentage of Maine is covered by forest?

According to the Maine Forest Service, approximately 89% of Maine's land area is forested, making it the most heavily forested state in the United States. This extensive coverage of forests contributes to the state's identity as the Pine Tree State and is a testament to its rich natural resources and the conservation efforts that help maintain these woodlands.

How has the Eastern White Pine shaped Maine's history?

The Eastern White Pine has been a cornerstone of Maine's history, particularly during the colonial era. Its tall, straight trunks were ideal for ship masts, and the British Royal Navy heavily relied on these trees, even marking the largest ones for the Crown. This led to the Pine Tree Riot of 1772, an act of defiance that foreshadowed the American Revolution. The pine's influence extends into Maine's economy and culture, symbolizing the state's enduring connection to its forests.

Are there any festivals or events in Maine that celebrate the pine tree?

Maine hosts various festivals and events that celebrate its forestry heritage, including the Maine Forest Heritage Days. This event showcases the state's commitment to sustainable forestry practices and celebrates the significance of the pine tree and other forest resources. Additionally, the state observes Maine Arbor Week, which often features the planting of pine trees and educational activities highlighting the importance of forests and conservation.

What role do pine trees play in Maine's economy today?

Pine trees continue to play a vital role in Maine's economy through the forestry and wood products industries. The state's forest economy contributes billions of dollars annually and supports thousands of jobs. Lumber, paper, and wood crafts made from pine and other trees are significant exports. Sustainable forestry practices ensure that this natural resource remains a stable and renewable part of Maine's economic landscape.

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Discussion Comments


This article just makes me want to go to Maine even more. It's always been on my list of places I'd like to visit ever since I saw pictures of the forests when I was a kid.

Has anyone ever been? Are there any great places to go to see some of the best forests? I know there are a couple of national forests that get good reviews.

I'm just wondering, but does Maine have any other nicknames? I assume the lobster industry is big there, so I thought maybe there would be a nickname about that.


@jcraig - I would have to guess that may state is the same as most states. Where I live, for something to be declared the state tree, for example, it goes through a lot of the same processes as something getting passed into law. Someone in the state congress introduces the idea, and then the member of the legislature take a vote on it.

I think in most cases this is more of a formality. Hopefully states aren't wasting tax payer time and money debating what the best flower is. Several years back when my state was trying to decided on the state tree, they selected three or four of the most common and popular trees and let school children throughout the state decide. Luckily they chose the white oak, which is a pretty good tree in my opinion.


Does anyone know how many of Maine's pine trees are used for paper production versus lumber? I know that most of our building wood comes from Douglas firs out west, but for anyone who has seen eastern white pine wood, it is beautiful.

This article did get me wondering, what is the process to get a tree or flower designated as the state tree or flower? I assume the same rules apply for all the different state identifiers, but I'm not sure of how it happens.


For a state without too many other industries, it's good that the lumber industry there is doing well. All the other related industries that are related to lumber help the economy of the state.

I wonder if there have been many cutbacks in the timber industry with the slowed economy of the last few years.

I'm curious to know how much of a problem Maine has with forest fires. Also, does anyone know what kind of programs they have for reforestation?


I've seen parts of Maine in the summer, and would like to see it in the other seasons. It really is a beautiful state. It reminds me of my home state of Washington, in some ways. Maine is the "Pine Tree State" and Washington is known as the "Evergreen State." They both have huge stands of trees.

Both states have lumber industries and grow a lot of Christmas trees. It's interesting that one state is in the northwest corner of the U.S. and the other is in the northeast corner.


Maine must produce a lot of pine mulch! I would love to live in a place with tons of pine trees on my property. I have to buy bundles of pine mulch every year to spread around my flowers to choke out weeds and preserve moisture, and I would save a lot of money if I could gather my own.

People in Maine could make lots of their own Christmas ornaments from the pine cones, also. I know several people who spray paint the cones silver and hang them from string on Christmas trees. If I lived in Maine, I could make these and sell them.

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    • The shipbuiding industry thrived in Maine due of abundant timber.
      By: onepony
      The shipbuiding industry thrived in Maine due of abundant timber.
    • Almost 90 percent of Maine is covered by trees, including pines.
      By: Vic
      Almost 90 percent of Maine is covered by trees, including pines.