Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Brad Jones.

Longleaf pine

Scientific name
Pinus palustris
Also Known As
Georgia pine, Longstraw pine, Southern yellow pine
Plant Family
Plant Group
Longleaf pine is a tall evergreen tree found in the southern US. Needles are in bundles of three and can be between 8 to 18 in long. The cones are 6 to 10 inches long.
Identification Hints

Longleaf pine is a beautiful large "yellow" pine in the Southern US. There are three closely related 3-needle pines in the south: longleaf, slash, and loblolly. Longleaf has needles up to 46 cm (18 in) long, with stout twigs and silvery buds and cones 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in) long with small incurved prickles on the scales. The other pines have shorter cones 5 to 15 cm (2 to 6 in) with a sharp prickle on the scales, and red-brown buds.

Did You Know?

Birds and small mammals eat the large seeds, ants feed on germinating seeds, and razorback hogs eat the roots of seedlings. Longleaf pine needles are used extensively for mulch. In pre-settlement times it was a major source of timber and naval stores (for rosins). It covered over 60 million acres, or most of the southern coastal plain. Now fewer than 4 million acres have these valuable pines.

Leaves
Needles are in bundles of 3; they are shiny, dark green, and 8 to 18 in (20 to 46 cm) long.
Flowers
The male flowers (catkins) are purple and are mostly in the lower crown of the tree, female flowers (the cones) form on the upper part of the tree.
Seed Cones
The seed cones are 6 to 8 in (15 to 20 cm) long. Longleaf pine seeds are approximately 0.39 in (10 mm) in size with a wing 0.98 to 1.6 in (25-40 mm) long and are the largest seeds of all the southern pines. It is difficult for the wind to carry them very far from the parent tree.
Bark
The scaly bark is orange-brown to gray, developing flat plates.
Habitat
Longleaf pine grows best in a warm, wet, temperate climate with an annual precipitation range of 45 to 70 in (114 to 177 cm). It is common on wet, poorly-drained flatwoods and swamps to dry, rocky or sandy soils, mostly below 660 ft (198 m) elevation.
Bloom Time
First flower varies from February in the south to April in the north and generally lasts one to three weeks. Seed dispersal is defined as when cone scales turn brown and open, usually mid-September to late October.
States
AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX, VA