Longleaf Pine

In North Carolina longleaf pine forests once covered nearly all of the upper coastal plain and lower piedmont. Although today they cover significantly less acres, longleaf pine forests are among the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Learn about the importance of the longleaf pine to the region’s history, economy and biodiversity.


Longleaf pine forests were once the most extensive forest ecosystems in the Southern United States. They were the foundation of a thriving naval stores industry and an integral part of the Southern culture. While these forests have dwindled to a fraction of their previous size, landowners are now making significant progress toward re-establishing longleaf pine forests in their historical range.



Longleaf pine, the longest-living of the southern pine species, is genetically adapted to tolerate fire. In its early years, it stays in a grass stage for an extended period, establishing an extensive root system rather than growing taller.


The early successional understory of a longleaf pine forest, which is maintained by periodic fire, supports diverse wildlife and plant species, including many that are rare or endangered.


Active management can improve the health, productivity and diversity of the longleaf forest. Learn about understory management, prescribed fire, reforestation and other management practices that can help you achieve your objectives for your longleaf forest.