longleaf pine
Pinus palustris Mill.
  • LEAVES: needles in fascicles of 3's, 8-18" long, length can overlap with Pinus elliottii but is consistently longer than the other Louisiana pines; needles are tufted towards tips of stobby branches (resembling pompoms); persistent 2-3 years
  • SEED CONE: cones 6-10” long, apophysis is dull reddish brown and wrinkly, umbo dorsal with prickle curved towards base of scale; a few basal scales remain attached to the branch when the cone is shed, thus cones on the ground are often missing their basal portions
  • SEEDS: seeds do not naturally de-wing; largest of southern pines; germinate in the fall
  • TWIGS: TWIGS: twigs are thick and abundantly covered in old scale-leaves; buds are large and silvery, especially conspicuous and candle-like in the spring, bud scales ciliate with silvery hairs
  • BARK: orange-brown scaly, becoming platy when older
  • FORM: large tree, to ca. 125’ tall and 2’ dbh, with a very clear straight bole on good well-drained sites, old trees can be short and “scraggly” on hydric flatwoods; crown often flat-topped on old trees; has a grass or broom stage which can last several years, during which time little stem growth occurs and root growth is extensive; grass stage seedlings resemble a clump of “monkey grass”, saplings resemble “Cousin It”; very fire-resistant during most stages of life; long-lived, to ca. 400 years
  • HABITAT: dry to xeric upland woodlands on sandy soils, hydric to mesic flatwoods on nutrient-poor silt loams, sometimes also on clayey uplands; adapted to frequent fire
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative (FAC): Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plains from southeast Virginia to Texas, also Alabama and Georgia Piedmont; longleaf pine systems originally occupied ca. 92 million acres [USGS Range Map]
  • USES: best southern pine for lumber, poles, kraft paper and paperboard (stronger than paper made from regular pulping processes); sinker logs are actively sought out, old warehouses are mined for beams; important naval stores producer, pine straw, ornamental
  • WILDLIFE: seeds eaten by birds and small mammals, germinating seeds eaten by ants, roots of seedlings eaten by hogs and pocket gophers; old trees with red heart rot provide nesting for red cockaded woodpeckers
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. needles relatively long and in fascicles of 3, tufted on tips of stout twigs
    2. ong cones, those on ground often with some missing proximal scales
    3. arge silvery terminal buds