This is the LONGLEAF PINE. The longleaf pine is native to the southeastern United States and is found along the coastal plain from southern Maryland to east Texas. It is the state tree of Alabama.
This evergreen conifer has the longest leaves of the eastern pine trees. The dark green, needlelike leaves can grow up to 18 inches long and are typically in bundles of three. The bark is thick, reddish-brown and scaly. The cones of the longleaf pine range in size from 6 to 8 inches long and are the largest cones in the southern pine series. Because of their large size, only animals like the fox squirrel are able to get the seeds out of the cones while still in the tree.
These tall trees reach heights of up to 115 feet and a diameter of approximately 28 inches. The longleaf pine takes 100-150 years to become full size and may live up to 500 years.
The longleaf pine has various uses to us today, including the production of resin, turpentine, and timber. The wood of this tree is used for lumber and pulp. A good use for an old longleaf pine stump is to make a “fat lighter.” A fat lighter is a strip of wood that is rich with concentrated pine resin and is a very useful item for kindling fires.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the longleaf pine as an endangered species primarily due to the logging demands of the tree.
The pine tree is the official state tree of North Carolina which includes the state’s eight native species of pine. The longleaf pine tree has important historic significance for the state of North Carolina as the state has a high honor named after this tree. The “Order of the Long Leaf Pine” is an honor granted by the state of North Carolina for individuals who have shown extraordinary service to the state. This award is given by the Office of the Governor.