Longleaf: The Tree

The longleaf pine, Pinus palustris P. Mill., is found throughout the Southeastern United States. It is easily identified by its long needles and large cones at maturity and by its distinct life stages during development–seedling, grass, bottle brush, sapling and maturity. During the grass stage, which lasts up to seven years, thick needles protect the growing tip or bud from fire, an important aspect of the longleaf ecosystem. Commercially, longleaf pine is known for its wood density, straight form and consistent taper, and its long pine needles are valued for landscaping mulch.

Life Stages of the Longleaf Pine  (Longleaf Alliance)
Longleaf pine is the longest lived of the southern pine species. Throughout most of its range, individual longleaf pines can reach 250 years in age (with trees in excess of 450 years old having been documented).

Secrets of the Longleaf Pine (video)
From the producers of “Chattahoochee Unplugged” comes a new documentary about the forgotten Longleaf Pine forest that once blanketed the coastal plain of the Southeastern United States.

Introduction to Longleaf Pine (N.C. Forest Service)
Longleaf pine grows unlike any other pine tree in the South. After the seed germinates, the tree takes the form of a large, thick clump of pine needles on the soil surface. This initial growth pattern is called the ‘grass stage’ since the tree appears much like a bundle of needle-like grass.

Longleaf Pine Fact Sheet (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)
Pinus palustris P. Mill., 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.

4H Resources Longleaf Pine (University of Florida)
Unlike most conifers, the first 3 to 7 years of longleaf pine growth do not involve stem elongation. Rather, it remains a fire resistant, stemless, dense cluster of needles resembling tufts of grass.

Longleaf Pine (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), whose species name means “of the marsh,” has been locally referred to as longstraw, yellow, southern yellow, swamp, hard or heart, pitch, and Georgia pine.

The Relationship Between Climate and Seed Production in Longleaf Pine
(U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station)
The longleaf pine tree is a finicky and slow seed producer, and scientists have long suspected that fluctuations in seed production are related to climate.

What is a Longleaf Pine Forest (American Forest Foundation)
Longleaf pines thrive where low-intensity fires are frequent. That’s because their seeds fall to the ground and must stay in contact with the soil to germinate and grow.