The pine tree’s key to long life is its ability to adapt to extreme cold weather, fires, and even drought season. Apart from that, they thrive in shallow soil conditions, even on rock.
The pine needles are its avenue of food. The needles perform the same task as leaves that photosynthesize to create carbohydrates, which keep the tree nourished.
During winter, while some of its needles shed, most still remain. When the trees thaw, these needles begin to photosynthesize again.
Another adaptation of the pine tree to extreme winter conditions is its ability to shed extra snow from its branches. Its branches spread down outward, creating a coney slope, allowing snow to slip away, and protecting the branches from breaking under the weight.
Another adaptation to extreme snowfall is the tree’s flexibility. Its branches can bend without breaking easily, and when snowfall is heavy, the branches flex rather than break with the weight.
The pine tree has an amazing water transport system during winter, to keep the tree hydrated. The liquid water moves up the tree. It does this through tube like cells in its xylem called tracheids.
For this to work, the line of water has to be unfrozen (liquid). When water freezes, this column breaks, but reforms again during spring.
The pine tree’s thick bark and high branches (where the pine needles are) protects the tree against fires. The height of the branches allows the needles that provide food to remain untouched by fires.
Pine trees actually grow better after a fire, when the surrounding foliage is destroyed, than without a fire. Some varieties of pine (jack pine) need a fire to seed, because the resinous bond that glues the cones together needs extreme heat to split open.
The pine tree is great at surviving droughts. The pine needles preserve moisture within them, because their small thin size leaves little surface area for evaporation. Their surface is thick and waxy, making it even more difficult for moisture to escape.
Another survival tactic of the pine tree during extreme droughts is its taproot, which goes deep into the earth to tap water, to keep the tree hydrated.
The pine trees’ root system buries itself deep to also protect itself against the harsh winds, by acting like an anchor.
Some types of pines like Limber Pines and Ponderosa Pines can grow on rocks or in areas without much soil. Their root system does not burrow deep into the earth, but travel laterally through the little cracks in the rock in search of water.