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Lawn & Garden

Types of Pine Trees

Many of us devalue pine trees, not holding them in high regard like we do hardwoods. Sure, they don't provide brilliant fall color or protect us with shade from the blazing hot sun, but lets talk about what they do do.

Have you tried to
grow grass or plants under those Oak trees? Nope, that wont happen but it is certainly a realistic option under the thickest canopy of tall pine trees.That's right, pine trees throw off filtered sun, creating perfectly suitable growing conditions for most grasses and plants.

How about the importance of pine trees agriculturally? I bet you your home is made primarily from pines. These fast growing trees grow straight and grow closely together. This is another reason pine trees are the number one choice tree to grow agriculturally for lumber production.

You may have noticed that when a huge wind storm moves in, that it is always the large hardwood trees that have fallen through the house and flattened the cars in the driveway, while uprooting the yard. That's because hardwoods have a shallow, fibrous root system that grows the width of the trees canopy. Pine trees tap root plants itself deep into the ground, acting as an anchor for the tree.

Now that we know some of the many benefits that pine trees provide us, lets look at some different pine trees and see some of their benefits.


Loblolly Pine

Loblolly Pine


This tree is grows in flat, sandy to rocky soils of the coastal planes from New Jersey, south to Florida and west to Texas. Its needles grow 6 to 7 inches long and come in clusters of 3 and pine cones are 3 to 6 inches long. Loblolly, being a much faster grower than the Longleaf Pine, has been used in forestry to replace the many acres of Longleaf pines that have been forested over the last century. Loblolly can grow in wet or dry soils better than many other pines.


Pine trees root systems consist of a tap root unlike hardwood trees that typically have a fibrous (shallow and wide) root system. This is why pine trees snap in wind storms and oaks uproot in wind storms.


Eastern White Pine


This tree is distinctive, as it has symmetrical branches, soft blue needles and long slender pine cones. It also grows in a pyramidal shape, its branches grow all the way to the ground and its blue needles grow about 5 inches long and in bundles of 5. It makes a great screen in the landscape and also works well as a windbreak.

As a Christmas tree it has soft branches that struggle to hold heavy ornaments and will certainly drop needles quickly if you choose to cut this tree. Keep the roots on it and keep it with water and it will do fine in a bucket in the house for a month.


Virginia Pine


This is a medium sized tree that is dense at a young age and the preferred cover for animals like deer, owls and rabbits. Its needles get from 1.5 to 3 inches long, that grows in twisted pairs and produce small 2.5 inch oval pine cones that are loaded with seeds and preferred food of birds which help spread the seeds. This tree grows very fast and can quickly beat out other trees when taking over fields. This tree is very adaptable to different soils and grows in places other trees cannot tolerate.


This tree grows natively around the Appalachian mountain area and is called a pioneer species due to its ability to take over disturbed land areas. Because its inability to tolerate shade, it is often taken over and killed by aggressive reforestation of hardwood trees. Virginia pine is monoecious, having male and female parts to pollinate itself. In open areas this tree can produce cones in as early as 5 years and in dense cover it can take up to 50 years.


This tree can be found on tree farms, trimmed as Christmas trees and would be best planted somewhere a quick growing windscreen or privacy screen is needed. This tree is preferred by woodpeckers as a nesting habitat.


Japanese Black Pine


This tree grows as a bushy, lower growing tree that grows dense from top to bottom and can get as wide as it does tall. Its dark green needles grow 5 to 7 inches long and in groups of two. This tree tolerates salt well and can grow quickly in ideal conditions.   This tree is very popular as a bonsai tree.


In the landscape, this tree grows well as a specimen tree or as a visual screen. This tree is great in coastal areas and grows further north than many other pines. This tree in not native to the United States. 


Red Pine


Red Pine gets its name from its reddish bark. It is a native of New England and Canada but can be found as far south as Tennessee. This slow growing pine has a full oval crown and makes a good windbreak in agricultural areas due to its strong tap root.


Its dark green needles are 4 to 6 inches long and come in bundles of 2. The pine cones are 2 inches long and smooth, without spines.


Dwarf Mugo Pine

This dwarf pine grows wider than tall and will become full sized in about 10 years. This slow grower is ideal for rock gardens or for providing unique textures with other low growing plants. This plant makes a great container plant and with hundreds of varieties of Mugo Pines, there is certainly one that would suite you perfectly.


Ponderosa Pine

This tree typically grows native in moderately rainy, high elevations between 3000 and 9000 feet. This pine tree grows to a staggering 200 foot tall and trunks 3 to 4 foot across. The trees rusty orange bark has a unique smell of vanilla or butterscotch. This tree is a major source of lumber in the southwest United States.


Longleaf Pine

Long Leaf Pine


This tree grows in flat, sandy to rocky soils of the coastal planes from Virginia, south to Florida and west to Texas. Its needles grow from 1 foot to 18 inches long and come in clusters of 3 and pine cones are 6 to 10 inches long. Because these trees grow slower than most pines, they are rarely propagated or sold by private nurseries. There are faster and better options for the landscape. Pine trees root systems consist of a tap root unlike hardwood trees that typically have a fibrous (shallow and wide) root system. This is why pine trees snap in wind storms and oaks uproot in wind storms.


With once having covered 90 million acres, these trees were the home to over 30, now endangered animal species. With now only covering 3% of that area, it seems that the tree that was once known for its exceptional quality lumber is being threatened as well. Reforestation of these magnificent trees is becoming a priority for the trees and the 30 endangered species that depend on it.


Southern longleaf pine is the state tree of Alabama.




This tree has been reported to grow to 390 feet tall and have a 20 foot wide trunk. It is also the second tallest conifer in the world, next to the redwood. This tree is not truly a fir, which is why it is hyphenated. It is actually in the same family as pines. This tree grows in a specific region of the Pacific-northwest where winters are mild and wet and summers are cool and relatively dry.


The variety Pseudotsuga menziessii var. glauca is used for Christmas trees for its ability to withstand harsher conditions. It takes 7 to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree and it is one of the most used Christmas trees in the United States. It has soft needles and not very ridged branches and it handles ornaments better than a White Pine but not as well as a Frasier or Noble Fir. Put a fresh cut on the tree and keep its stand filled with water and it will last well past Christmas with minimal needle drop.


 Scotch Pine

This tree is probably the toughest tree out there. This tree is a native of Scotland, grows in Siberia and above the Arctic Circle where temperatures have reached -64 degrees below zero. It can grow in altitudes from sea level to 8,000 feet. It grow on rocks, in sand and gravel. It can handle climates with practically no rain and areas with as much as 70 inches of rain per year. Scotch pine grows in regions where the soil stays frozen permanently.


The scotch pine is used for pulpwood and erosion control in the northern United States but its primary use is for Christmas trees. Shade is just about the only thing this tree cannot tolerate.


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Posted 2015-10-29T17:56:42+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL Ingar_HD_ATL