Also Known as: Georgia Pine, Southern Yellow Pine, Hill Pine
Scientific name: Pinus palustris
Did You Know?
Young Longleaf pines actually resemble bunch grasses more than tree saplings as the long needles grow from a small base near the ground while the tree puts down roots for the first few years.
Longleaf Pine (also known as “Georgia Pine” or “Southern Yellow Pine”) is a large but slow growing tree reaching a height of 80-100 feet with a trunk diameter of up to 3’. Longleaf pine is evergreen, but due to its thin needle like leaves and its natural tendency to self-prune the lower branches, filtered sunlight still reaches the understory below these large trees. Longleaf pine requires full sun, prefers acidic sandy soils, is more resistant to diseases than many other pines, and is popular for its long lifespan (around 300 years), it’s very straight form, and low maintenance. Longleaf pine historically grew in pure stands where the understory was controlled by frequent low intensity fires. As such, bunch grasses are an excellent companion plant for longleaf pine in the landscape and longleaf pines look at home in a park setting with an open understory.
Longleaf pine does not transplant as well as some other pines and requires a bit more care for success (www.longleafalliance.org is a good resource for planting tips).
Longleaf pine’s historic range extended throughout the southeastern United States in coastal plains and sandy uplands where it formed extensive stands. These old growth longleaf pine stands were the preferred habitat of the Red-Cockaded woodpecker, which is now endangered due to habitat loss.
Today, logging, fire suppression, and agriculture have fragmented these forests and Longleaf Pine now occurs on less than 3% of its historic range. Efforts are under way to restore some of these forests through replanting and controlled burns.
Plants are available commercially, ranging from 1 to 45 gallon sizes with even larger options occasionally available. Longleaf pine can also be grown from seed but it will be a few years before the seedling resembles a tree whatsoever.
Plant Longleaf Pine in full sun and do your homework on best planting practices so that you can enjoy your tree for a long long time.