Long Leaf Pine Tree Guide

 Longleaf Pine Tree
The long leaf pine is a beautiful species that typically ranges from 60-125 feet and has a decent spread between 30-40 feet. In most longleaf pine trees, the diameter is usually smaller. This pine yields a dark purple female cone and a purple-blue male cone. There are so many uses of longleaf pine and the plant is often seen as a landscape specimen.


When the tree grows older, its bark thickens and presents flaky plates. During spring, the female plant’s purple flowers and the male’s yellow-red flowers mature.


Continue reading to know what a longleaf pine looks like and some of its most important uses.


Jump To


Longleaf Pine At a Glance


Native to The Southeastern United States, found along the coastal plain from East Texas to southern Virginia, extending into northern and central Florida
Lifespan They take 100-150 years to grow their full size but may live for as long as five centuries.
Height 100 to 120 feet
Botanical Name Pinus palustris
Type Evergreen
Sun Full sun
Water Average needs
Temperature Like hot, humid summers and mild winters – 16° to 23° C (60° to 74° F) and annual precipitation from 1090 to 1750 mm (43 to 69 in)
Fertilizer It should be fertilized thrice in a year with a fertilizer having NPK 3:1:2 ratio.
Soil It prefers well-drained soil but has some clay tolerance with an acidic to neutral pH.
USDA hardiness zones Seven through nine
Longleaf Pine Uses Its wood is used in lumbar, and needles help with basket weaving.


Longleaf Pine Tree Identification: How Do They Look?

A long leaf pine tree is an evergreen conifer with coarse, scaly, orange-brown, light bark with upright branches that form an open, oval-shaped crown with open density and an irregular crown uniformity. It is called the longleaf pine, given its longest leaves in the eastern pine species at 18-inches or 46 cm.


This tall tree has leaves that grow together in a set of three, and its spiny pine cones are about 10” long and may hold onto the tree for two years. The leaves are dark-green and do not change their color across the year.


Its female cones are dull-brown that grow to 15 cm or even upon maturity, but male cones are purplish, grow in clusters, and extend to only 3-6 cm in length.


The male cones yield pollen grains from February to April, while the female cones shed seeds from late summer through October. With multiple longleaf pine uses, the seeds of this tree take about three years to grow, and its spring flowers appear following the spiny, large six- to 10-inch-long cone.


The longleaf pine has a single trunk and drooping branches, sans any thorns. Its bark goes from gray to brown and orangey with scaly and flat plates.


In the initial three to seven years, long leaf pine remain in the grass-life tufted stage. At this time, the pine grows slowly because maximum nutrition goes towards the root development stage. But, once the pine tree outgrows its grass stage, there is a shift in longleaf pine tree growth rate from slow to medium to fast.


You will see mature pines growing tall at 80-100 feet. These trees naturally prune their lower branches and grow straight and tall.


One of the most distinguishing facts about them is their new growth buds or clusters that change color in winters to silvery white. It has a yellow-colored flower that is not showy, and the fruit appears elongated. It is about six to twelve inches with a hard or dry covering. The fruit is brown-hued and attracts mammals or squirrels.

Where Do Longleaf Pines Grow?

The pine trees spread across the Gulf Coastal Plains and Atlantic from eastern Texas to South Eastern Virginia through the northern two-thirds of peninsular Florida. The long leaf pine trees also grow in the Mountain Provinces of northwest Georgia, Alabama, Ridge and Valley, and Piedmont.


Typically, this area lies from USDA hardiness zones seven through nine, and the temperature in the region is wet, warm, and temperate, with mild winters and reasonably hot summers.


In addition, upon reading through the longleaf pine tree facts, we established that the plant grows in several sites – ranging from rocky, dry mountain ridges to poorly drained, wet flatwood, at elevations ranging from barely above sea level near the beaches on the lower Coastal Plain. The majority of these plants are around the Gulf Coastal plains and Atlantic at elevations below 660 feet.


How Tall Do Longleaf Pine Get?

Typically, long-leaf pine trees are evergreen, long-lived native conifers. They have gray to orange-brown, scaly barks and seed-bearing cones, usually six to ten inches long. Its needles grow in bundles of three. They are dark green, shiny, and about six to 18 inches long. A mature tree grows from 100-200 feet with a 2 ½ feet diameter.


How Long Does It Take A Longleaf Pine To Grow?

Commonly known as the longleaf Pine, the Pinus palustris, the longleaf pine tree growth rate is slow. But it does not take too long for the plant to pick up. While young, they grow a long taproot, about 6.6-9.8 feet.


Ideally, a healthy long-leaf pine tree can grow about two to three feet a year. The plant grows about 98-115 feet, but some trees may even grow to 150 feet with a diameter of at least twenty-eight inches. Most plants take around 100 to 150 years to reach their full size. The plant has a maximum lifespan of 500 years.


Related: Types of pine | Pine tree lifespan | Pine growth rate


Longleaf Pine Tree Facts & Trivia

Below we will discuss some unknown facts about longleaf pines.

  • It is named the longleaf pine because it has the longest leaves of all eastern pine tree species.
  • Pinus palustris Miller, or the southern longleaf pine, is Alabama’s state tree.
  • In the wild, longleaf pine uses are plenty. Several wildlife species depend on this tree, such as the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, which uses the tree for nesting.
  • It has strong wood, and most buildings from the Southern US in the 1800s contain the longleaf pine wood. Today, when people reconstruct these buildings, they do not throw away the wood. Instead, they re-use it because it is still sturdy to resist insect and water damage.
  • Longleaf pines are the longest-lived Southern pine species. They have an average lifespan of 250 years. Surprisingly, a few rare trees live for as long as 450 years.
  • Unfortunately, only three percent of the original longleaf pine forest exists today. To make up for the loss, Conway’s Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge is continually making an effort to recover the longleaf pines. Several new plantings have been planted across multiple acres of the refuge.
  • The longleaf pine has the biggest cone of all pine varieties in South Carolina.
  • Its trunk can go up to three feet in diameter, and the mature longleaf pine grows up to 80-100 feet tall with 18-inch needles.
  • Because of their size and strength, these were the most sought-after trees in the late 19th century.
  • The US government has incorporated programs like the Safe Harbor Program to expand and protect longleaf pine forests.


Longleaf Pine Tree Uses

Now let us discuss below some of the top longleaf pine uses:

  • Back in the day, we saw multiple forests of longleaf pine, especially along the Gulf coast of North America and the SouthEastern Atlantic Coast. People widely cut the trees in the wild as they were the source of naval stores – timber, turpentine, and resin, widely used by the navy and the merchants for the ships.
  • It gives a place for the animals to live.
  • The trees’ 18-inch long needles are used in the ancient craft of coiled basket making.
  • Its resinous, yellow wood is used for pulp and lumber.
  • The pine straw is used as mulch. It is lightweight and lasts a long time.
  • Longleaf pine’s seeds are edible and can be eaten raw or roasted.
  • One of the other prevalent longleaf pine uses is in construction, where the trees are employed for roof trusses, stringers, piles, poles, and joists. For exterior application, the pine trees are pressure=-treated with preservatives.
  • In interiors, the longleaf pine helps with sheathing and subflooring.
  • It is valuable to the environment. This pine tree captures all the CO2 in the air and conserves it in its wood. Thus, acting as an excellent carbon source.
  • Farmers make income from living trees by selling the needles or the leaves as a ground cover.
  • The pine straw is rich in nitrogen, a vital nutrient for the plants to grow and keep insects at bay.


FAQs: Longleaf Pine Tree Facts and Myths

Ques 1. Are longleaf pine endangered?

Ans. Although longleaf pine is not an endangered species, it is ranked as threatened by the Texas Natural Heritage Program.


Ques 2. Can you eat longleaf pine?

Ans. You can eat the just-sprouted seedlings of longleaf pines.


Ques 3. Is the longleaf pine hardwood or softwood?

Ans. Even though botanically classified as softwood, you will find longleaf pine to be hardwood. So, you cannot tackle it with your hands.


Ques 4. What is so special about longleaf pine?

Ans. The long-leaf pine trees are considered unique for several reasons. They are well-adapted to living in fire and, at times, rely on it for survival. Even when a fire kills the many competing plants, the long-leaf young trees and seeds can survive the flames. Even though its seedlings may be prone to catching fire, the sheath of needles shields them and takes the burn.


Ques 5. How do you tell the difference between loblolly and longleaf pine?

Ans. Here are some tips to differentiate between loblolly and longleaf pine:

  • Long-leaf pine does not range as far north, whereas the Loblolly Pine ranges from northern Florida to southern New Jersey to as far west as eastern Texas. On the contrary, the Longleaf Pine extends from Virginia to central Florida and as far west as eastern Texas.So, if you are somewhere around Southern to central Florida, the tree you spotted is a Longleaf Pine, but if you find a similar-looking plant in the north of Virginia, it has to be the Loblolly Pine.
  • Long leaf Pine tree likes the higher, well-drained ground, but the Loblolly Pine likes the depression and areas where water accumulates.
  • Longleaf Pine can be spotted in highlands from sea level to 600 m but is prevalent at 200 m. Loblolly Pine is common in elevations from 150-365m.
  • Longleaf Pine has a 70 cm trunk, is more slender, and grows to about 100 feet. Loblolly Pine grows almost the same height. They are about 23-36 feet in width with a trunk diameter of 1.3-4.9ft.
  • Longleaf Pine has dark green leaves and reddish-brown bark with twisted needles appearing in bundles and is about 18-inches. Loblolly Pine has pale blue-green needles and gray-brown, scaly bark. They also occur in bundles and are about 9-inches.
  • Longleaf pine has a higher density and pass than Loblolly Pine.
  • Both experience comparative shrinkage ratios, but Loblolly Pine tends to shrink less.

More on Pine Trees: Japanese Pines | Blue Pine | Bonsai Pine White Pines



The plant enjoys full sun and thrives in a well-drained sandy or clayey soil with acidic to neutral pH. The longleaf pine tree growth rate is slow and is not the easiest to transplant. It is prone to storm and ice damage and does not respond well to drought, lightning, or high winds.


We have now gathered quite a bit of information on Long-leaf trees, their types, and uses. Hopefully, the article helped you pick out the one most suitable for your garden and to care for it. Happy gardening!