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Loblolly Pine Pinus taeda

Phonetic Spelling
PY-nus TAY-duh
Description

Loblolly Pine is an evergreen gymnosperm tree tree that may grow 60 to 90 feet tall. It is loosely pyramidal in youth, dropping lower branches with oval crown at maturity. The tree has 5- to 8-inch slender needles in clusters of 3, rarely 2 or 4. As the tree ages, the bark thickens forming irregular, flaky plates that reveal a dark chocolate color when removed. In spring, red to yellow, male flowers and yellow to purple, female flowers mature in clusters.

It is particularly noted for its straight trunk, often growing 2 to 3 ft. thick.  It loses its lower branches as it matures, gradually developing a dense oval-rounded crown.  It sometimes grows in pure stands and commonly spreads into old fields by self-seeding.  Its scaly gray-brown bark develops furrows with age.  The most rapid growth rate of all pines. It prefers wet but well-drained soil, acidic soil.

The Loblolly Pine will grow in medium to wet soils in full sun. Prefers moist, acidic soils with poor drainage and full sun.  Performs best in climates with hot and humid summers and mild winters. This tree is tolerant of alkaline soils and has no serious pest or disease problems as a landscape plant.

This is an important timber tree whose wood is used for pulp, plywood, and general construction.  Its wood value and rapid growth lend its use towards forest management.

Books commonly cite needles occasionally in twos, although this has never been seen at NC State. This plant is confused with slash pine with needles in threes and twos, and literature data could possible come from a misidentification in the past. Loblolly has twigs with tufts of needles at the apex. If one holds a Loblolly cone in their hand, grasps tightly and squeezes, the recurved spine of Loblolly drives into the skin. This is a common tree in plantations grown for paper pulp. It is often seen in subdivisions with homes built around these pines. This tree is good for fast screening when it is young and is easily transplanted from containers. 

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. 

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Southern pine beetle and pine engraver beetle. Fusiform rust and rots may occur. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Pine tree with tall, straight trunk
  • Needles are medium length and in threes
  • Twig apices are powder-puffed with fascicles, bare below
  • Cones are persisting, sharp-pointed, recurved umbel
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#wildlife plant#poor drainage#native tree#conifer#cover plant#tsc#host plant#playground#seeds#host#squirrels#wet sites#winter cover#small mammals#food source#cpp#fire#high flammability#NC native#deer resistant#children's garden#lumber#self-seeding#edible seeds#screening#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#cover#food source fall#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#wildlife plant#poor drainage#native tree#conifer#cover plant#tsc#host plant#playground#seeds#host#squirrels#wet sites#winter cover#small mammals#food source#cpp#fire#high flammability#NC native#deer resistant#children's garden#lumber#self-seeding#edible seeds#screening#pollinator plant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#cover#food source fall#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Pinus
    Species:
    taeda
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Timber tree
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    It provides winter cover.  It is also a host plant for the Eastern Pine Elfin butterfly.  Squirrels and birds eat the seeds.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This tree is moderately resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 60 ft. 0 in. - 90 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Horizontal
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The stalkless, ovoid-cylindrical to narrow conical cones (3-6” long) with sharply-spined scales appear in groups of 2-5. They release their seeds from fall to winter and stay on the tree for a year before dropping. They are rusty-brown, umbo dorsal and bearing a recurved spine.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    In the spring, the loblolly pine has red to yellow male flowers and yellow to purple female flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Prickly
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Acicular
    Leaf Margin:
    Denticulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The loblolly pine has dark yellow-green needles ( (3 per fascicle) in bundles of three (infrequently in bundles of two) clustered on dwarf shoots. They are finely-toothed, stiff and slender. They drop during the tree's third year. Leaves are 6-10" long, pliable, and have finely serrulate margins. Sheaths are about 1" long.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Peeling
    Ridges
    Shredding
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Irregular
    Bark Description:
    Red to grey brown scaly young bark and red-brown furrowed rounded scaly plates with maturity. The plates are broad and flat.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stems are erect, straight, tall, bearing branches typically above one's head. Young twigs quickly abote fascicles except at apex. The upper branches tend to curve upwards while the lower branches droop, eventually falling off the tree as it ages.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Wet Soil