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Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)

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Summary

A long-lived, fire-adapted species of pine native to the southeastern U.S., and the largest of the southern pine species, the longleaf pine has declined due to a combination of heavy harvesting for timber, slow natural regeneration, and fire suppression.

Range - Expand

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Native

This tentative map is based on the FHWA's ERA. This data lacks information on Canada, but also overestimates native ranges, especially around the edges, as this post explains. We have not yet reviewed or fixed this map.

USDA Plants Profile for Pinus palustris

Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) Article for Pinus palustris

Similar Plants

Habitat

Occurs in regions that burn regularly and requires fire for long-term survival. Tolerates dry conditions, and deep, sandy soils low in nutrients. Mostly found at low elevations, below 660ft (200m) but can be found up to about 1970 feet (600m.)

Requires high light conditions, usually maintained by fire.

Life Cycle

Seeds germinate within a couple weeks of falling, and require exposed mineral soil to germinate. Seedlings spend their early years, usually at least 2 but as long as 20, in a "grass stage", where the plant has no stem and superficially resembles a grass. During this time, the plant establishes an extensive root system. Once sufficient roots are established, the the plant begins growing upright, often faster than 3ft / 1m per year. The tree initially grows with a single trunk and does not typically branch until about 10 to 16 feet (3-5 m) in height.

Seedlings in the grass stage are able to resprout vegetatively, but upright trees are not as able to resprout.

Trees begin producing cones at about 30 years of age. Trees have a two-tier masting cycle, in which there is a heavy seed crop every 7 to 10 years, and a moderate seed crop every 3-4 years.

Established trees can live 400-500 years.

Uses

The wood of this species is among the most desirable types of pine, valued for its straight wood with few defects. Its wood is considered similar to other southern yellow pines, but often the most desirable among them.