Unique for its longevity of up to 450 years old, Longleaf Pine is the longest lived of all the southern pine species. Because of its long life, these trees experience four main stages of growth: grass stage, bottlebrush stage, sapling stage, and mature stage. All of these stages are unique in appearance and have their own sets of benefits to their ecosystems. Even in their death, assuming they have survived mother nature’s hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, wildfires, drought, and ice storms, their bark continues to contribute to the ecosystem just as it did during its life.
Longleaf Pines grow best in warm, wet, temperate climates, and they can be found in the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains of the southeast. It does best in full sun and grows well in well-drained sandy or clay soils. The Longleaf Pine has needle-like leaves that grow in groups and are the longest of any pine tree variety. The overall height of this tree depends on its life stage, but in its maturity, it can reach up to 120 feet tall and 2.5 feet in diameter.
This pine has been found to be a great home for bobwhite quail, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and fox squirrel. When this tree reaches maturity and enters its old-growth stage, it is found to be a nesting habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Longleaf pines used to cover approximately 90 million acres, but now only cover fewer than 3% of that range. Restoration of these beautiful trees is now a top priority for major conservationists in recent years, as many endangered species rely on them for their habitats. This species of tree is the most resilient to the natural elements than any other species of pine tree.
Southeastern United States, North America
Longstraw Pine, Southern Yellow Pine, Georgia Pine
Hardy Range: 7 – 10
Mature Height: 60 – 80’
Mature Spread: 30 – 40’
Growth Rate: medium to fast, height increase of 13” to 24” per year
Form: irregular oval silhouette, crown-shaped with pompom-like tufts at the end made of needles.
Longleaf Pine needles are formed in dark green bundles of three, and their needles can grow anywhere from 8 to 15 inches long. The needles are yellow/green in color, shiny, bendy, and have a slight twist to them. The twigs are thick, and the bark shares their orange/brown color. The pine cones they produce can measure 6 to 8 inches long, proving to be the largest of all southern pine seeds.
Soil: alkaline, loamy, rich, and clay soils
Exposure: full sun and partial shade