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Long-leaf Pine Pinus palustris

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
PY-nus pal-US-triss
Description

Longleaf Pine is an evergreen gymnosperm tree that may grow 60 to 120 feet tall. The tree has 8- to 18-inch slender and feathery needles in clusters of 3. The needle clusters tend to be tufted at the end of branches. This tree produces numerous, dense, long-needled fascicles. As the tree ages, the bark thickens forming irregular, flaky plates. In spring, long, yellow-red, male and oval, purple, female flowers mature. The tree produces both a purple-blue male cone and a dark purple female cone.

The Longleaf pine does best in full sun.  It grows well in well-drained sandy or clay soils in full sun.  It is a difficult tree to transplant and has a slow growth rate.  This tree is susceptible to ice and storm damage, and is also not tolerant of lightning, high winds or drought.  It is difficult to transplant.  It grows in "grass-like" stage for the first 5 years, staying at a very short size.  Seeds need to be exposed to fire before germination can occur.

It has historically been used for naval purposes, specifically for pitch, tar, resin, and turpentine, and is still used for lumber today. The wood is known for its heaviness, strength, and durability. This plant can be utilized as a specimen plant. Needles can be used as pine mulch, but fallen shoots with needles can be a litter problem. This plant has no serious pest/disease problems in landscapes.

The largest cone in the Eastern US is 6-10 in.  red-brown ovoid to conical shape with umbo armed with curved prickle.

Fire Risk: This plant has a high flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home. Select plants with a low flammability rating for the sites nearest your home. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Pine tree with elongated needles in threes
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Tags:
#evergreen#full sun#wildlife plant#large tree#native tree#moths#conifer#pine straw#mulch#cover plant#food source#cpp#fire#high flammability#NC native#deer resistant#lumber#Braham Arboretum#fantz#cover#food source fall#food source herbage#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterflies#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#full sun#wildlife plant#large tree#native tree#moths#conifer#pine straw#mulch#cover plant#food source#cpp#fire#high flammability#NC native#deer resistant#lumber#Braham Arboretum#fantz#cover#food source fall#food source herbage#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterflies#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Pinus
    Species:
    palustris
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Used as lumber, poles, pine straw and is the state tree of NC. Sap was used to make tar to seal the wood of boats.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southern US
    Distribution:
    VA west to TX south to FL
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    The Longleaf pine provides winter cover. Fox and gray squirrels, quail, brown-headed nuthatches, mourning doves, and turkeys eat the seeds. Red-cockaded woodpeckers excavate cavities in the living specimens of this species.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 60 ft. 0 in. - 120 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 30 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Open
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Produces a purple-blue male cone and a dark purple female cone that is large, ovoid-oblong, and later turns brown. In their second year, the now mature female cones are 6-15 in. long and have spines at the tips of the scales. They drop their seeds in September to Octobe and fall off the tree soon after. Some of the largest cones among the pine species.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    From March to April, the Longleaf pine will produce long yellow-red male and oval purple female flowers. Cylindrical 1.5-2 in long silver-white fringed buds
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Slippery
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Acicular
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are needles clustered on dwarf shoots (fascicles) in threes. They are long, 6-12", pliable, have finely serrulate margins, and are bright green. Buds are silvery-white and aid in the identification of this tree. These "candles" of new growth are anywhere from 3-15 in long.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Gray
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Peeling
    Shredding
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Irregular
    Bark Description:
    As the tree ages, the orange-brown to reddish-brown bark thickens forming irregular, flaky plates.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Bud Terminal:
    Cluster of terminal buds
    Stem Description:
    The branches tend to be gnarled or twisted.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Problems:
    Messy