Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday's Trees- Virginia Pine

We have a Virginia Pine, Pinus virginiana on our street. Most of the pines are Loblolly so this one Virginia Pine stands out. This native tree occurs in a mixed hardwood/pine forest. Originally found in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is a moderately fast grower reaching its full height of about 50- 75 feet in approximately 50 years. It is a relatively short lived tree averaging 65- 90 years -- rarely seen beyond 150 years. It has a shallow root system which can pose a problem with high winds.

The bark is smooth on younger trees and developed small fissures as it matures. You can see the comparison with the Loblolly pine, the Virginia Pine plates are smaller and the ridges are not as deep. The branches are horizontal with open growth and the crown is flat on top. It is tolerant of shade and is one to fill in quickly after a fire.

Needles are small and have a twisted appearance, two per fascicle. The needles are about 1- 3 inches long –easily distinguished from the Loblolly.

Like other pines, it is monoecious. When the cones are mature, they release their seeds. The Pinus virginiana is a prolific seed producer and most seeds are dispersed within 100 feet of the parent tree. The Duke web site has great photos of the male and female cones. Empty cones can persist on the tree for as many as 15 years!!

Pests for this tree are the southern pine beetle and Virginia pine sawfly. There are some cankers and fungal problems, you can read more about them in the Silvics resource listed below.
Uses for this tree surprised me. It is listed as a preferred Christmas tree. I suppose when it is young the shape is better. It is a tall slender tree as it matures. It is a food source for many small mammals and birds. It is also a nesting area for woodpeckers as the trees age and decay.

Silvics reference and another Silvics resource --both have lots of super information and lots of details.
Virginia Tech –brief easy to read reference sheet
The USDA site with range map and photos
A Champion Tree is shown on the Remarkable Tree site.

Have not decided on next week's tree -- it will be a surprise!

words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.


  1. Janet,
    Great post! The Duke website you linked to was done by a very good friend of mine Will Cook. We have been out in nature with our cameras many times.

  2. These trees can develop a lot of character out in the wild, but they can be a little ragged looking in a yard.

  3. That's a really good picture demonstrating the difference between the pines. I know like almost nothing of pines so thanks for the tips!

  4. I rarely see this tree near the coast but seems prolific further up the Peninsula. They do make good Christmas trees. One Christmas my father brought one home and Mom was able to put ornaments all the way to the trunk.

  5. Hope the Virginia Pines don't break from the weight of the snow across the state. On the news and other blogs, some parts of VA look like.. Canada?


  6. Great post Janet. I occasionally see Virginia Pines when I am out and about, but we just have Loblollies on the farm.

  7. Great post! I sure wish we had a few more pines around here. Our yard is edged with Eastern Red Cedar and that's about it.

  8. Like Dave, I'd like to see more variety (natural) of trees here - oh there are lots but just not at our place. Nothing but firs. Pines are nice and I love their cones. Our fir cones are pretty wimpy.

  9. I "think" I remember seeing these trees when I lived on the East Coast Janet. I hope a whole lot of them don't fall with the weight of all the snow you've been getting.

  10. I'm still trying to figure out what kind of pine trees we have on our property, but I'm sure they're not Virginia pines. The photos of the needles and the bark comparison are great tools for identification, Janet! Interesting that these would be preferred Christmas trees; here it's mostly Scotch pine and white pines that you'll find for sale.

    I agree with Cameron--I hope the pines across the East are not damaged by all this snow. Our branches were weighted down one day, then popped back up, but I don't think we've had as much snow as out East.

  11. Pretty new header!

    We have a bunch of huge pines at our house, but I have no clue what kind(s).

  12. I've seen this tree on the preferred Christmas tree list and was also surprised...it's hardly ever at the tree lots! gail

  13. I don't think I've ever seen this tree used as a Christmas tree, have you? Interesting info. I'd like to see one decorated;-) Google search is calling my name...! Thanks for sharing the tree info on a regular basis-it was a great idea! Your gardening group sounds interesting. I keep thinking I'll look into one up here but haven't done it yet. I'm still waiting to walk normally before I get into things like that. Also, I'm still waiting to be able to open my door...I'm a bit snowed in at the moment;-) Mike is out of town and I haven't shoveled the front or back other than a small area for the dogs. Time to get out there today...arghh.

  14. Great info! We have lots of tall Georgia pine trees in our yard. I dont know too much about pines but think ours to be Loblolly. They constantly drop limbs but we still love the things! We have 6 different types of woodpeckers so they must love them as well.

  15. Hi all, sorry I have been delayed in responding to your comments.
    Randy- thanks! Small world --I like using the info from Duke, their photos especially are super!

    Phillip- I agree!

    Tina- I am still learning all the differences...slowly but surely.

    Les- we have a few Virginia Pines around here. Glad you had a story with this one!

    Cameron- Our snow was heavy yesterday but it didn't damage the trees. I was wondering if the winds would topple some trees.

    Sweetbay- thanks. It is interesting to see what trees you can find when your are out and about.

    Dave- Wonder why you don't have any pines in your area? Eastern Red Cedars are nice natives to have around.

    Linda- A mixed forest is always nice. We don't have many firs (if any) we should mix it up!

    Kathleen- I imagine you did see these trees. We were lucky, no trees fell in our area from the snow...though it sure was a heavy snow and the winds were strong.

    Rose- I will be doing more on pines so maybe you will figure out what kind you have. Looks like more snow is headed our way for the weekend.

    Ginger- thanks! A few years ago I thought all we had around here were Loblolly.

    Gail- I was surprised the tree is used for a Christmas tree.

    Jan- so did you find one decorated? HOw is your knee? I think you should ask your son to shovel...you have a knee brace right now.

    Skeeter- I bet yours trees are Loblolly is too. The pines are a favorite for the woodpeckers.

  16. Janet,

    We are being infested by pine beetles, it is horrible.
    Good info, thanks


  17. I've fallen hard for pines the last few years. In early gardening years, I had pine blindness, never noticing them, but I need to add some more to the collection. Such diversity in these great trees.

  18. Another new tree to me. We have a huge Ponderosa pine which has bark similar to the Loblolly you show. The needles of your Pine are very pretty. I had no idea how long a pine cone could stay on a tree.

  19. Hi Rosey, how awful, pine bark beetles are really horrible. We lost four (?) trees to them. I have seen USForestry photos taken from the air of vast forests with an infestation of pine bark beetles. Just awful.

    Hi Megan, I know what you mean about the awareness of the diversity. Since I have been doing these tree posts I have become much more aware of so many trees in our landscape.

    Hi Catherine, I have seen pictures of Ponderosa pines, but not sure how similar they are to Loblolly. I think some of these little fun facts are very unusual...but interesting.

  20. Very good post on virginia pine. We use pine tree bark and needles as mulch here in our extreme summer heat.

  21. Hi Janet~~ I love the dew dripping off the tips of the needles. Not too many pines in this neck of the woods. But gazillions of Douglas firs. :)

  22. Hi Muhammad, thanks! We use the pine needles and/or the bark as well.

    Hi Grace, thanks, sometimes pictures really come out well.
    I don't know Douglas firs (heard of them, but couldn't ID one to save my life)


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