Longleaf pine, fat pine, Georgia pine, hard pine, heart pine, longleaf yellow pine, longstraw pine, pitch pine, rosemary pine, southern pine, southern yellow pine, turpentine pine, yellow pine.
Longleaf pine is a long-lived, native, evergreen conifer with course, scaly bark. Needles are a distinctive characteristic; they are in bundles of 3, shiny, dark green, and 8 to 15 inches long. Cones are 6 to 10 inches long, and somewhat cylindrical. Mature trees attain a height of 100 to 120 feet and 2 1/2 feet in diameter. Its seeds are the largest of all southern pines. It has extensive lateral roots and a taproot that grows 8 to 12 feet long. Young form of tree is columnar, unbranched, and has a very leafy trunk.
March to April.
Longleaf pine, is found in the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains from southeastern Virginia to central Florida and west to eastern Texas, and in the Piedmont region and Valley and Ridge province of Georgia and Alabama.
Longleaf pine grows best in a warm, wet, temperate climate with an annual precipitation range of 43 to 69 inches. Although the species occurs in a wide variety of upland and flatwood sites, it is common on sandy, infertile, well-drained soils, mostly below 660 feet elevation.
Sap in early April, and gum about last of April or first of May.
Longleaf pine stands are successfully established by either seeding or vegetative reproduction. Seeds (including dormant seeds if prechilled) can be sown in the fall or spring, pressed into the soil at densities from 15 to 75 seedlings per square foot. Seeds germinate 1 to 2 weeks following seedfall. Germination requires mineral soil. The seed's large size and persistent wing prevent it from penetrating through the litter. Seedlings are stemless after one growing season and this lasts from 2 to many years. During this grass-stage, the seedling develops an extensive root system, and the root collar increases in diameter. When the root collar diameter approaches 1 inch in diameter, height growth begins. A field-grown seedling grows 10 feet in 3 years once height growth is initiated. Branch production is delayed until the seedling reaches 10 to 16 feet in height.
Vegetative propagation is usually done by grafting. If grass-stage seedlings are top-killed, they can sprout from the root collar. Once height growth begins, sprouting ability decreases rapidly.
Heavy grazing can reduce tree density, significantly reducing establishment and causing crop failure.
Erosion Control: Longleaf pine is a highly recommended species for reforestation of dry, infertile, deep sands in the southeastern U.S. It is has limited potential for rehabilitation of mine spoils.
Wildlife: Birds and small mammals eat the large seeds, ants feed on germinating seeds, and razorback hogs eat the roots of seedlings. This species provides excellent habitat for bobwhite quail, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and fox squirrel. Old-growth stands provide nesting habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Timber: The wood is often clear, straight, and with few defects and used for timber and ship building.
Recreation and Beautification: Longleaf Pine is a source of turpentine, pine oil, tar, pitch, resins and wood pulp. It is used in the manufacturing of varnishes, inks, waxes, seals and lubricants, as well as kraft paper and paperboard. The needles are used for mulch. Resin is used in the naval stores industry for gum turpentine and rosin production. The uses of turpentine oil as a rubefacient are well known. Rosin is widely used by athletes to protect their hands, and by violinists to prevent the bow from slipping and to produce better vibration. Pine tar from this source is used therapeutically for the same purpose as white pine tar.
Longleaf pine is intolerant to both shade and competition. With frequent fire, uneven-aged pure stands form park-like savannahs. Because longleaf pine regenerates in openings created by dead trees, small clusters of trees of the same age are dispersed throughout the stand. In the absence of frequent fire, the species is replaced by hardwoods and other southern pines; this hastens the decline of mature longleaf pine. Lightning ignited fires are pivotal to perpetuation of longleaf pine on a site indefinitely. Excessive grazing reduces young tree density.
Pests and Potential Problems
The main disease of longleaf pine is brown-spot needle blight (Scirrhia acicola). Other diseases include pitch canker, annosus root rot, and cone rust. Insects that attack longleaf pine include black turpentine beetle, bark beetles, and seed bugs.
Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin)
No cultivars are currently recommended. Seeds and seedlings are commercially available from woody plant seed companies. The number of seeds per pound ranges from 3,000 to 7,000.
(Information adapted from USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center Baton Rouge, LA)