Shortleaf Pine

By William T. Hathaway

Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata)

In various locations the Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata) may be known as Oldfield Pine, Yellow Pine or Rosemary Pine. Because of the quality of its yellowish, hard wood for commercial use, the Shortleaf Pine has been eagerly harvested throughout our local forests. At many sites it has been replaced by planting Loblolly Pines which are one of the most rapidly growing of the southern pines. Fortunately, the Shortleaf Pine tends to seed itself into old abandoned fields but not quite as aggressively as does the Virginia Pine (also known as the Scrub Pine). With patience we may someday enjoy the sight of new Shortleaf Pine saplings in such abandoned fields and open woodlands.

The needles are bluish-green from three to five inches long, clustered on pale twigs. These twigs are easily broken (brittle) unlike the Virginia Pine twigs which must be twisted to remove. Very old Shortleaf Pines found on campuses and funeral grounds are easily identified by the relatively large light-brown to cinnamon-red bark with rectangular, scaly plates surrounded by deep furrows. This magnificent tree prefers dry, sandy, well-drained soils as found in our Piedmont county.