Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday's Trees- Loblolly Pine, Pinus taeda

This native tree is very common in my area.   It took some very close looking to find that there were other pines as well.  As stated in other tree postings, I never used to noticed what kind of trees there were in my landscape.   Since I have been doing these Tuesday posts I have really learned how to identify a good number of trees.   I hope you too have learned a little as well.  I have changed my page a little bit, putting the tree links on a tab at the top.  The list was getting too long to have on the sidebar.  If you click the link, you will have the full list of postings about trees.

As I said, this is a native tree to the southeast.  It can grow up to 100+ feet tall and has an oval crown.  One of the interesting attributes of this tree is that it is self-pruning of its lower branches.   My first thought with many of these was that they were ‘city’ pruned or limbed up for the home landscape, apparently I was wrong. 

The needles are approximately 6- 9 inches long with three needles in each bundle.  The needles are twisted, green, and kind of stiff. 

Loblollys grow tall and straight and have been used in lumber, pulp, plywood, poles, and fuel.  Another interesting fact is that new wood grain and old wood grain are markedly different.   In addition to commercial uses it serves as a food source for birds, squirrel and deer as well as a common nesting site for osprey and bald eagles. 
The bark of the Pinus taeda is dark gray with large scaly plates.   It is a fragrant bark.  Sometimes called Rosemary Pine because of the fragrance.  

The name Loblolly means mud puddle.  It is commonly found in swampy wet areas where the water table is close to the surface.  The average age is 100-150 years and it is a fast grower.
The tree has both male and female flowers.  In the spring when the pollen is released it is almost like a yellow dust storm.   The cones are green at first and turn brown as it matures.  It stays on the tree for up to a year after it releases its seeds.    It is about 6 inches long.  The tips on the scales of the cone are sharp. 

My best online reference is once again Silvics from the Forestry Service.  
Next week’s tree is the American Beech.

words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.


  1. Fantastic information. It has helped me tons too!

  2. I'm always impressed by your research on the trees you feature.

    Loblolly and Longleaf pines are plentiful here in the Coastal Plain.

  3. That is quite interesting. Where I live we have way too many "bull pines"..I have no idea what the official name is for them. I do know they fall when it gets too wet because of the roots being very short. That is something I found out the hard way when one fell on my car years ago! They fell on the townhouse. The knocked over mailboxes in the street. Luckily at that time I was renting. I moved out of that area and last time I passed it, I believe about all of the trees had fallen!

  4. We have the Loblolly pines on our land. There is an abundance of them in our area and there is a pulp paper mill near by as well. As they timber the land, they plant more for an ongoing supply for the mill. Oh do they ever prune themselves! Don’t stand under one when this occurs or you may get a nice bump on your head…

    We have long needles near as well and we get the long needle pine straw some times for my landscaping. But mostly use the Loblolly needles as they are much cheaper.

    Ft Gordon, where my hubby works is involved with a program for the Red-cockaded woodpeckers! They recently released several pairs in the area in hopes they will find a home and reproduce.

    Grateful Dead and BLT, hum, it don’t get no better then that! Happy Birthday to your Sweetie!

  5. I would venture to guess that this is the most common tree in this area, and it is the first tree species to grow after the land has been scraped clean of anything else. Sorry to hear it means mud puddle, before the word Loblolly conjured up more pleasant images.

  6. Mud puddle...that's just sad for a beautiful pine tree, but it might help us remember it needs moisture. Thanks Janet, gail

  7. I had no idea that loblolly meant mud puddle -- hmm. But isn't it fun to learn about native trees? We have so many great ones.

  8. I didn't know about their bark...I can't wait to sniff one! And thanks for the definition. Not what I would have expected.

  9. I love this tree... in spite of the Yellow Haze and the dropping off branches. It is a beautiful and fragrant tree.

  10. I didn't know the name means mud puddle!


  11. Hi Tina, Glad this one helped too!! I have learned so much. It is funny to reflect on the questions I asked just a year ago about trees.

    Hi NellJean, Thanks, that is very nice of you to say. Yes, the Coastal Plain is a perfect environment for these pines.

    Hi Debbie, I will have to look and see if these Loblollys are also called Bull Pines. Sounds like you have had some issues with these pines! I just looked up 'Bull Pine' and it is a common name for this pine as well as the Ponderosa Pine. So it is possible yours was Pinus taeda.

    Hi Skeeter, I imagine you do have lots of Loblollys. On any given storm there are always limbs on the ground from these trees. I think the longleaf needles would be an interesting mulch.
    That is so cool that Ft. Gordon is looking to restore the population of this woodpecker!

    Hi Les, I agree, it is probably the most common tree around here. If you were a kid, mud puddle might sound pretty good. Where is your inner child??

    Hi Gail, I like the mud puddle, sure does help with the moisture needs. thanks for stopping by.

    Hi Lisa, it is fun to learn about these trees. I think it is also good to learn about non-natives...and learn what natives are a good substitute.

    Hi Phillip, I want my camera ready when you start sniffing the Loblolly.

    Hi Sweetbay, I like it too, but like you said, the yellow haze it really something.

    Hi Cameron, you, me, and apparently lots of others were surprised.

  12. I always wondered what "Loblolly" meant; thanks for enlightening me. I wonder if that is from a dialect? It sounds like Creole or perhaps the island off the Carolinas--can't remember its name now. Certainly an interesting tree, one that we don't have in the Midwest. Thanks for putting in the link to all your tree posts; they're a great resource!

  13. Lots of great info here, Janet, thanks. Yellow dust storm is right! I can't take a photo of any flower in the garden during that time, April into May without the petals being covered in dust. It always affects the Viola Beauty Pageant. HA But we love those Loblollys, and are heartened to hear the live so long. I was worried that our mature specimens were near the end of their life span. They are the only ones to have survived the horrible southern pine beetle rampage of 2000 in the neighborhood. I would like to take credit with the extra water we gave them for this feat, but probably had nothing to do with it. :-)

  14. hi Rose, I am not sure the origin or the name. Will try to do some more trees that are in your area.

    Hi Frances, With all this rain I think the pollen production will be high this year. I have a few that have succome to the pine bark beetle. Never like seeing the sawdust around the base of the tree.


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