Florida Forestry Information
Pinaceae
The Pine Family
 
The pine family is the largest of the coniferous group of trees.  It includes 9 genera and about 200 species that are widely scattered throughout the Northern Hemisphere.  A few are found south of the equator.  Many products derived from this family are associated with humans' daily lives and activities.  Most of the structural timbers used to fabricate homes; most of the pulpwood used in the manufacture of newspapers, magazines, and countless other paper products; and chemical derivatives used in the manufacture of rayon, cellophane, turpentine, and plastics are derived from the pine family.   Certain pharmaceutical preparations also contain compounds from this family of plants.  Trees of this family are also prized ornamentals. 
 
 Click on the links below for introductions to some of the trees of this family:
 
longleaf pine
south Florida slash pine
shortleaf pine
pond pine
loblolly pine
spruce pine
slash pine
Ocala sand pine
 
Choctawhatchee sand pine
 
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Pinus palustris 
longleaf pine 
 
longleaf pine, photo by Julie Anne Ferguson DemersHabit 

The longleaf pine is a tree, 80-100 feet in height, 3 feet in diameter.  It is characterized by a long, clear symmetrical bole, a small open crown, with long, bright green tufts of needles at the tips of stout branches, and a deep taproot supported by numerous wide-spreading lateral roots.  Within the first 3-7 years of development, the aerial portion of the stem consists of a cluster of needles which resemble a large tuft of grass.  This stage of this tree's development is commonly known as the grass stage.  Once the root system has become thoroughly established, normal stem elongation begins. 

Leaves 

Leaves are needle-like, 8-18 inches in length, 3 needles per fascicle.  Leaves occur at the ends of stout branches in dense, ball-like tufts.  Leaves are bright green, slender, flexible, and 3-sided.  These leaves begin to fall off in the second season. 
 
Flowers 
 
The male clusters are dark, rose-purple colored, and many-clustered.  Females are dark purple and in pairs or clusters of 3 or 4. 
 
longleaf pine cone, photo by Chris DemersFruit 
 
The cones are 6-10 inches long, narrowly ovoid or cylindrical, sessile.  Scales are thin, flat, and rounded at the tip, the enclosed portions are reddish-brown, often wrinkled, and are furnished on the back with a small, reflexed spine, which curves toward the base of the scale.  Seeds are 1/2 inch long.  The wings are about 1.5 inch long and striped. 

Twigs 

The twigs are orange-brown and stout. 
 
Bark 

The bark is orange-brown and coarsely scaly.  Scales are thin and papery.  The bark is plated on the largest trees. 
 
Habitat 

The longleaf pine grows on flat, sandy, and gravely soils of the coastal plain.  It often grows on thin soils underlain by a hardpan.  In the southern ends of its range, it grows on ascending low hills and ridges.  It is found on the southern Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains from southern Virginia to eastern Texas.  It is not found in the Mississippi River Valley.  It is found from sea level to 1,900 feet in northern Alabama. 
 
Use 

The longleaf pine is one of the largest and well-known southern yellow pines.  History records indicate that some of the choicest stands of longleaf were set aside by the English Crown for the exclusive use of the British Navy.  These trees were ideal for the masts and spars of sailing vessels.  The resinous materials were suited for caulking the planking of hulls and decks.  When the supply of high-grade white pine began to dwindle, lumbermen looked to southern pinelands.  By 1909, the south was the principal lumbering center of the nation.  About half of the annual cut was longleaf pine.  Today, this tree is used in the manufacture of various products.  It is also a very important component of the habitat of the red cockaded woodpecker.  Click on the link for more information on the longleaf pine sandhill ecosystem
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
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Pinus echinata 
shortleaf pine 
 
shortleaf pine, photo by Chris DemersHabit 

The shortleaf pine is a tree, 80-100 feet in height, 2-3 feet in diameter.  It is characterized by a long, clear symmetrical unbuttressed bole, a small, narrow, pyramidal crown, and a very large taproot.  This pine has unusual regenerative capabilities during early juvenile development.  When the original stem of a seedling or sapling has been destroyed, sprouts arise from the root collar that are capable of growing to maturity. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are needle-like, 3-5 inches in length, 2-3 needles per fascicle.  Leaves are bright green, slender, and flexible.  Leaves are often persistent through the fourth season.  Leaves will occasionally appear in tufts along the bole from adventitious buds. 
 
Flowers 
 
The male clusters are yellowish-brown to pale pink.  Females are light pink and in clusters of 2 or 3 or are solitary. 
 
Fruit 
 
The cones are 1-3 inches long, conical or ovoid, and nearly sessile.  Scales are thin, rounded at the tip, the exposed portions of the closed cone are reddish-brown, and are furnished on the back with a small, sharp, straight or curved spine.  Seeds are 1/4 inch long and brown.  The wings are about 1/2 inch long, straw colored, sometimes with yellow-brown streaks. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are pale green with a purplish layer during the first season, becoming smooth and reddish-brown. 
 
Bark 

The bark is nearly black and rough on young stems.  On older stems,  it is reddish-brown and separated into irregular, flat, scaly plates, with many small resin pockets scattered through the corky layers. 
 
Habitat 

The shortleaf pine is most common in pure or mixed stands on dry upland soils, but it can grow on a variety of sites.  It is found in the eastern U.S. from central New Jersey south and west to northern Florida, southern Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and southeastern Texas.  It is not found on the upper slopes of the Appalachian Mountains nor in the Mississippi River Valley. 
 
Use 

The wood of this tree is firm, moderately heavy, and well suited for many uses, especially structural timbers, planing-mill products, and pulp.  It is sometimes used as an ornamental, but needles, cones, and dead branches drop off frequently, rendering this tree potentially unsuitable on lawns. 
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
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Pinus taeda 
loblolly pine 
 
loblolly pine, photo by Chris DemersHabit 

Loblolly pine is a tree, 90-110 feet in height, 2-4 feet in diameter.  It is characterized by a long, clear, symmetrical, occasionally buttressed bole, a large open crown of spreading ascending limbs, and a well-developed lateral root system. 

Leaves 

Leaves are needle-like, 6-9 inches in length, 3 (rarely 2) needles per fascicle.  Leaves are gray-green, slender, occasionally twisted, and somewhat stiff.  Leaves are often persistent through the end of the second season. 
 
Flowers 
 
The male clusters are yellow.  Females are yellow and in clusters of 2 or 3 or are solitary. 
 
Fruit 
 
The cones are 3-6 inches long, narrowly conical to ovoid, and sessile.  Scales are thin, the exposed portions of the closed cone are flattened, wrinkled, and are furnished on the back with a short, stout, sharp spine.  Seeds are 1/4 inch long and dark brown.  The wings are about 3/4 inch long, lustrous, light, and yellowish-brown to gray. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are reddish-brown to dark yellow-brown. 
 
Bark 

The bark is nearly black and scaly on young stems.  On older stems,  it is 1-2 inches thick and divided into irregular, dark brown, scaly blocks.  On the largest trees, it is separated into large, irregular, scaly plates. 
 
Habitat 

Loblolly pine is widely scattered across a variety of sites throughout the forests of the coastal plains and lower Piedmont plateau.  It is very vigorous on fallow fields and cutover lands.  It will often fully restock such areas in a relatively short time.  In virgin forests, it occurs as an occasional tree on moist soils and along streams, in association with hardwoods.  It is found on the coastal plains and lower Piedmont from southern New Jersey to central Florida, southern Oklahoma, and southeastern Texas.  It is not found in the lower Mississippi Valley. 

Use 

The wood of this tree is of lower quality than that of longleaf or shortleaf pines in terms of lumber, but it is very suitable as pulpwood for the production of paper products. 
 

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Pinus elliottii var. elliottii 
slash pine 
 
slash pine, photo by Chris DemersHabit 

Slash pine is a tree, 100-120 feet in height, 2-4 feet in diameter.  It is characterized by a long, clear, symmetrical bole, a deep root system, and a dense, round-topped crown of horizontal and ascending branches. 

Leaves 

Leaves are needle-like, 8-12 inches in length, 2-3 needles per fascicle.  Leaves are dark, glossy green, stiff, and tufted at the ends of branches.  Leaves are often persistent through the end of the second season. 
 
Flowers 
 
The male clusters are dark purple.  Females are pinkish and are commonly solitary. 
 
Fruit 
 
The cones are 2-6 inches long and narrowly conical to ovoid.  Scales are thin, the exposed portions of the closed cone are lustrous brown and furnished on the back with a short, often curved, sharp spine.  Seeds are 1/4 inch long and black.  The wings are about 1 inch long, encircling the seed, thin, and translucent. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are orange-brown and stout. 
 
Bark 

The bark is deeply furrowed on young stems, becoming 1-2 inches thick and broken into large, flat plates, covered with large, thin. papery, silvery-orange scales. 
 
Habitat 

Slash pine grows well on low ground, hammocks, in swamps, and along streams.  It is very aggressive and commonly occupies cutover lands formerly occupied by other species.  It is found in the Gulf states south through several West Indian islands to Guatemala and Honduras in Central America. 

Use 

The wood of this tree is used for railroad ties, fuel, lumber, and pulp.  It is often used as a roadside ornamental in several areas of the Deep South. 
 

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Pinus elliottii var. densa 
south Florida slash pine
 
Habit 

The south Florida slash pine is a tree, 100-120 feet in height, 2-4 feet in diameter.  It differs from the elliottii variety in that the stems of the seedlings of the elliottii variety are thin and pencil-like, elongating normally with the relatively sparse needle fascicles.  The stems of the variety densa seedlings are thick, somewhat carrot-like, not elongating appreciably for several years and bearing a relative abundance of needle fascicles. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are needle-like, 8-12 inches in length, 2-3 needles per fascicle.  Leaves are dark, glossy green, stiff, and tufted at the ends of branches.  Leaves are often persistent through the end of the second season. 

Flowers 
 
The male clusters are dark purple.  Females are pinkish and are commonly solitary. 
 
Fruit 
 
The cones are 2-6 inches long and narrowly conical to ovoid.  Scales are thin, the exposed portions of the closed cone are lustrous brown and furnished on the back with a short, often curved, sharp spine.  Seeds are 1/4 inch long and black.  The wings are about 1 inch long, encircling the seed, thin, and translucent. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are orange-brown and stout. 
 
Bark 

The bark is deeply furrowed on young stems, becoming 1-2 inches thick and broken into large, flat plates, covered with large, thin. papery, silvery-orange scales. 
 
Habitat 

South Florida slash pine grows well on low ground, hammocks, in swamps, and along streams.  It is very aggressive and commonly occupies cutover lands formerly occupied by other species.  It is found in extreme south Florida and the lower Florida Keys. 
 
Use 

The wood of this tree is used for railroad ties, fuel, and lumber. 
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
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Pinus serotina 
pond pine 
 
Habit 

The pond pine is a somewhat smaller pine tree, 60-70 feet in height, 1-2 feet in diameter.  It is characterized by a clear, symmetrical bole and a small open crown.  Like shortleaf pine, young trees of this species are also capable of producing sprouts from the root collar.  This tree is a natural variety of pitch pine, a tree found in the northeastern United States and through the Appalachian Mountains. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are needle-like, 6-8 inches in length, 3 needles per fascicle.  Leaves are yellow-green, stiff, often twisted, and are supported at right angles to the twig, commonly in tufts along the bole from adventitious buds.   Leaves are often persistent through the end of the second season. 
 
Flowers 
 
The male clusters are yellow, occasionally with a purplish tinge.  Females are greenish-yellow, sometimes tinged with pink, and are commonly solitary. 
 
Fruit 
 
The cones are 2-4 inches long, conical to ovoid, and sessile or nearly so.  Scales are thin, the exposed portions of the closed cone are light brown, smooth, and furnished on the back with a short, stout, rigid spine.  Seeds are 1/4 inch long, dull black or gray, and pebbly to the touch.  The wings are about 3/4 inch long, light brown with darker longitudinal streaks. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are stout, rigid, at first bright green but becoming orange-brown. 
 
Bark 

The bark very dark and scaly on young stems.  On more mature trees the bark is 1-2 inches thick, yellowish-brown, and separated into large, irregular, flat plates by narrow seams and fissures. 
 
Habitat 

Pond pine grows in swamps and the low, wet flats of the pocosins.  It is found from southern New Jersey south along the coastal plain to northern Florida and central Alabama. 
 
Use 

The pond pine is an important pulpwood species. 
 

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Pinus glabra 
spruce pine 
 
Habit 

Spruce pine is a moderate-sized pine tree, 80-90 feet in height, 1-3 feet in diameter.  This tree is characterized by its slender, dark green, twisted needles and silvery-gray, furrowed, oak-like bark. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are needle-like, 1-3 inches in length, 2 needles per fascicle, rarely 3.  Leaves are dark green, twisted, and flexible. 
 
Flowers 
 
The male clusters are purplish-yellow.  Females are greenish-pink and are commonly solitary. 
 
spruce pine foliage and cones, photo by Chris DemersFruit 
 
The cones are brown at maturity, most of them remaining on the tree for at least 3-4 years, becoming gray.  As such, the spruce pine often appears heavily laden with cones.  Cones are 1-2 inches long, are oblong, ovoid, and are armed with small deciduous spines.  Seeds, including wings, are 1/4-1 inch long. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are brown to gray and are smooth. 
 
Bark 

The bark is brown to gray, becoming rigid and grooved.  On large trunks, ridges are dark gray and laminated with hard, tight layers, not breaking into plates as is the case with other pines. 

Habitat 

The spruce pine is scattered and intermixed with hardwoods on moist, well-drained forests of uplands, bluffs, slopes of ravines, and in floodplain forests where elevated enough so that flooding is shallow brief.  It is found on the coastal plain from South Carolina to north Florida; west to southern Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana. 
 
Use 

The wood from this tree is sometimes used for pulp, fuel, and sawtimber. 
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
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Pinus clausa var. clausa 
Ocala sand pine 
 
Habit 

Ocala sand pine is a small tree, seldom more than 25 feet in height, 1 foot in diameter.  This tree gets its name from its occurrence on the sandy coastal soils of peninsular Florida.  It grows in pure stands where their long fibrous roots impede the migration of shifting sands. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are needle-like, 2-3.5 inches in length, 2 needles per fascicle, rarely 3.  Leaves are dark green and flexible.   Leaves are often persistent through the end of the second season. 
 
Flowers 
 
The male clusters are yellow, occasionally with an orangish tinge.  Females are yellowish-green and are commonly solitary. 
 
Fruit 
 
The cones are small, about 1-3 inches long, conical to ovoid, and sessile or nearly so.  Scales are hard and stiff, the inner surface is darker brown at the tip than the remaining surface.  Seeds, including wings, are 1/4-1 inch long.  The primary distinguishing characteristic between the Ocala and Choctawhatchee varieties of sand pine is that the Ocala variety is predominantly serotinous (cones remain closed for a long time after maturation) and the Choctawhatchee variety is predominantly nonserotinous (cones open after maturation). 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are tan or grayish-tan. 
 
Bark 

The bark becomes very thick and broken into laminated gray plates, with brown surfaces exposed beneath. 
 
Habitat 

Ocala sand pine inhabits deep, well-drained, relatively infertile sands of ridges and hills, stabilized coastal dunes, sometimes in dense, even-aged stands.  It is commonly in association with wintergreen shrubs and deciduous scrub oaks intermixed.  It is found throughout much of peninsular Florida. 
 
Use 

Sand pine is sometimes used for pulpwood. 
 

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Pinus clausa var. immuginata 
Choctawhatchee sand pine
 
Habit 

Choctawhatchee sand pine is a small tree, seldom more than 25 feet in height, 1 foot in diameter.  This tree gets its name from its occurrence on the sandy coastal soils of the Florida panhandle and southwestern Alabama.  It grows in pure stands where their long fibrous roots impede the migration of shifting sands. 
 
Leaves 

Leaves are needle-like, 2-3.5 inches in length, 2 needles per fascicle, rarely 3.  Leaves are dark green and flexible.   Leaves are often persistent through the end of the second season. 
 
Flowers 
 
The male clusters are yellow, occasionally with an orangish tinge.  Females are yellowish-green and are commonly solitary. 
 
Fruit 
 
The cones are small, about 1-3 inches long, conical to ovoid, and sessile or nearly so.  Scales are hard and stiff, the inner surface is darker brown at the tip than the remaining surface.  Seeds, including wings, are 1/4-1 inch long.  The primary distinguishing characteristic between the Ocala and Choctawhatchee varieties of sand pine is that the Ocala variety is predominantly serotinous (cones remain closed for a long time after maturation) and the Choctawhatchee variety is predominantly nonserotinous (cones open after maturation). 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are tan or grayish-tan. 
 
Bark 

The bark becomes very thick and broken into laminated gray plates, with brown surfaces exposed beneath. 
 
Habitat 

Ocala sand pine inhabits deep, well-drained, relatively infertile sands of ridges and hills, stabilized coastal dunes, sometimes in dense, even-aged stands.  It is commonly in association with wintergreen shrubs and deciduous scrub oaks intermixed.  It is found throughout much of the Florida panhandle and southwestern Alabama. 
 
Use 

Sand pine is sometimes used for pulpwood. 
 

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