Longleaf pines have dark green needles that can grow up with 18 inches long. The tree’s trunk has scaley bark with orange-brown coloring. Its upright branches form an oval crown at the top of the tree.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Cones fall from longleaf pines containing seeds that are then dispersed by the wind. Leaf litter and other debris can keep seeds from coming into contact with the soil, which they need to do in order to germinate. Forest fires that clear debris are therefore good for the tree’s growth. Once the seeds germinate and take root, they go into a “grass-state.” This is when the plant grows very little in height, but its central root (or tap root) grows extensively. After the grass-stage, longleaf pines start to grow in height. They are a slow-growing tree that can live up to 300 years.

Did You Know?

  • Controlled fires are used to clear the forest floor of leaf litter, which allows longleaf pine seeds to come into contact with the soil and germinate.
  • The longleaf pine once covered an estimated 90 million acres of the southeastern United States but is gone from much of this range due to development and the suppression of fires.
  • Conservationist are attempting to get ahead of warming climate patterns and introduce the longleaf pine to Maryland, where the tree may be able to eventually grow.

Sources and Additional Information