Introduction to the Shortleaf Pine:
The shortleaf pine tree (Pinus echinata) is one of four southern yellow pines native to southeastern United States. Shortleaf pine is also called shortleaf yellow, southern yellow, oldfield, shortstraw, or Arkansas soft pine. Shortleaf pine tolerates a wide range of soil and site conditions. Shortleaf pine grows more slowly during the early years after establishment than other southern pines but will adequately maintain growth when maturing. Shortleaf pine is the most common species regenerated in the northern and western parts of its range.
A Wide Shortleaf Pine Tree Range:
Shortleaf pine loves, and is concentrated in, its cooler northern range. Shortleaf pine has the widest range of all the southern yellow pines in the southeastern United States and grows in 22 States. The pine range is from southeastern New York and New Jersey west to Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, Kentucky, southwestern Illinois, and southern Missouri; south to eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas; and east to northern Florida and northeast through the Atlantic Coast States to Delaware.
Shortleaf Pine Will Hybridize:
Shortleaf pine frequently hybridizes naturally with Loblolly Pine and Pitch Pine where their ranges intersect. Artificial hybrids have been produced with shortleaf pine and are of special interest because they offer the opportunity to combine specific qualities of individual species.
Shortleaf pine can be crossed with slash pine to produce a resistance to fusiform rust which harms slash pine. Shortleaf pine x loblolly pine hybrids have also shown resistance to fusiform rust. The longleaf x shortleaf pine hybrid is difficult to produce and crosses have yielded only a few seedlings.
Identification of Shortleaf Pine:
The evergreen shortleaf pine is a medium to large tree that can often grow beyond 100 feet in height. The shortleaf pine crown is rounded to cone-shaped. Two to three needles grow per bundle and are the shortest needles of the southern pines. The branches are contorted and curved when compared to loblolly pine and limbs always grow in annual whorls or rings.
Uses of Shortleaf Pine:
Shortleaf pine is a valuable lumber product. It is primarily used for lumber, plywood, other structural materials, and pulpwood. Even the taproots can be used for pulpwood. Shortleaf pine is sometimes planted as an evergreen ornamental and as a screen in urban areas.
The seeds of shortleaf pine are valuable wildlife food and the canopies of shortleaf pine provide protection from the wind and cold for many animals. Stands of shortleaf pine scattered through hardwood forests are critical wildlife habitat. Older shortleaf pines with red heart rot are primary nesting trees for the red-cockaded woodpecker.
Damaging Agents that Hurt Shortleaf Pine:
Littleleaf disease is the most serious disease effecting shortleaf pine. Littleleaf disease occurs on poorly drained soils from Virginia to Mississippi and south to the Gulf Coast. Symptoms of the disease usually appear when the stands are 30 to 50 years old and mortality may be very high. Fertilization with nitrogen can help if caught early. No practical control measures for littleleaf disease in forest stands have been developed.