Also called Southern pine and Georgia pine, this evergreen coniferous tree is native to the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains in southeastern US from Virginia west to Texas and south to Florida. It is a member of the pine family, Pinaceae, that also includes, fir, spruce, and hemlock. The seed germinates into a grass-like tuft that develops a deep tap root for 2-7 years before growing into a tree. The tree grows up to 125′ tall and has a straight trunk with a few short, stout branches forming an open, irregular crown. The reddish brown bark turns brown, thickens with maturity, and forms irregular, flaky plates. The dark green needles usually occur in bundles of 3 and are 6-14″ long and very flexible, creating a weeping appearance. New growth clusters appear as “candles” and are silvery-white, and 3-15″ long. Purple-blue male cones and dark purple female cones are produced on the same tree. They begin development during the growing season and and the female cones are wind pollinated the following spring. Twenty months later the female cones are mature and are 6-15″ long, have spines at the tips of their scales, and drop their seed in the fall. The female cone are the largest cones of all pines. Longleaf pine is valued for its timber, its needles used as pine straw, and as a source of resin and turpentine. In addition, it survives fire that removes unwanted grasses and weeds, and provides shelter and/or food for birds and small mammals. The large size of the tree and the litter that appears as the needles and cones fall, discourage its use in the landscape. The genus name, Pinus, is from the Latin word pineus used for various kinds of pines. The specific epithet, palustris, is the Latin word meaning of the marsh, referring to the mistaken idea that the tree grows in such a habitat.

Type: Evergreen coniferous tree

Outstanding Feature: Large cones. long needles

Form: Upright with open irregular crown

Growth Rate: Rapid

Bloom: Not applicable

Size: 60-125′ H x 30-40′ W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Average, moist, well-drained, acidic but tolerant of a wide variety of soils from from wet, poorly drained flatland to dry, rocky mountain ridges

Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: Generally healthy but may be susceptible to borers, sawflies, pine-shoot moth, pine weevils and pine bark beetles.

Propagation: Seed, grafting; difficult to transplant because of deep taproot.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen