Pinus virginiana, the Virginia Pine

Picture of a Virginia Pine
This tree needs a haircut.
Thanks for the photo, wikipedia.

Virginia Pines are messy. Just generally messy lookin’ trees. Walk through the woods, see a pine, think it needs some trimming’, it’s probably a Virginia Pine. Unlike the other three common Piedmont Pines, they don’t self prune, meaning that they keep their lower branches even after they’ve stopped being of any use and are in fact dead. It’s really the easiest way to ‘id them.

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Pinus palustris, the Longleaf Pine

Pinus palustris, the Longleaf Pine, gets the most press of the Piedmont Pines. First, it has a seriously important history. Second, it requires fire to survive in any abundance. Third, it has HUGE cones. Seriously big cones. Bigger than your hand, unless you’ve got abnormally large mutant hands. Otherwise, they are about the same size as the other pines in the area. Oh, and yeah, it has long leaves/needles.

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Pinus echinata, the Shortleaf Pine

Pinus echinata, the Shortleaf pine, is another common pine tree in the Piedmont. They are very similar to Loblolly pines. Both trees are tall, thin and have no branches on the lower part of the tree. The easiest way to discern between the two is to find a cone, but this can be annoying if a tree of each species is next to each other, what with the cones falling and rolling about. Anyway, here’s three ways to differentiate between the two:

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Pinus taeda, the Loblolly Pine

Loblolly 1

Pinus taeda, the Loblolly pine, is probably the most common tree in the central Piedmont of North Carolina. (Okay, found a note saying that it “accounts for over one-half of the standing pine volume” which sounds pretty damn common.) Or if not the most common, at least it is damn common. They are large trees, getting well over 100 ft tall, but sort of skinny. They’re “self-pruning”, meaning they drop their lower branches as needed. So the trunk is nice and clean looking, with a poof of needly branches at the top above the roof of a two story building.

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