Grey or Scrub Pine TreeThe Grey or Scrub Pine (P. divaricata, Sudw.) is an outcast, strangely spurned and superstitiously feared in many places where it grows. It ventures farther north than any other pine. From the northern tier of states it ranges into the cold of frigid regions, following the Mackenzie River even to the Arctic circle. It grows only on barren ground-rocky slopes and in cold, boggy stretches. In Michigan it dips down to the southern point of the lake, scattering over the sand dunes, and clothing the barren stretches of the lower peninsula, which are known as the "Jack Pine Plains." The grey-green leaves, scant, stubby, in twos, and the crouching, sprawling habit of the tree, which wears its old cones for a dozen years or more-all tend to prejudice the casual observer against this pine. Only the thoughtful will consider what the desert and the cold North would be without it. North of Lake Superior it rises to the stature of a tree, reaching 70 feet in height, and spreading along the valley of the Mackenzie River, the only pine, it forms forests of considerable area, an immeasurable boon to the scant population of that region. The wood makes fuel and lumber, frames for the Indian's canoe, posts and railroad ties.
From Michigan to Minnesota the grey pine acts as a nurse tree to the seedlings of P. resinosa on denuded lands. Later the scrub " cleans " the young trees of lower limbs, greatly adding to their timber value.
Strange notions prevail in certain sections concerning this weird-looking pine tree. Women dare not pass within ten feet of a tree, and men also give it a wide berth. Cattle browsing near it are fatally stricken; the tree is believed to poison the ground it shadows. One who believes current reports of this tree will destroy every one growing on his land; but he dare not chop them down. Each must be burned like a witch, by making a funeral pyre all around it. Every misfortune that overtakes a family is laid at the foot of the grey pine, as long as there is one left on the place.