A part of the southern pine family that includes loblolly, slash, and shortleaf pine, longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) grows best in the coastal plain from southern Virginia through the Carolinas into Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and eastern Texas. The species thrives in moist, but well-drained, deep, sandy soil where it reaches 100' heights and diameters of 3'. The trunks of mature trees have orange-brown bark broken into papery scales. In keeping with its name, longleaf pine features slender, flexible needles up to 18" long carried on the branches in groups of three. Cones up to 10" long develop in the second season following its blooms. Longleaf pine has a very thin band of nearly white sapwood surrounding its resinous orange-yellow heartwood. The wood rates as straight-grained, extremely hard, strong, durable, and, at about 42 pounds per cubic foot air-dry, nearly as heavy as sugar maple. Rapidly grown plantation trees produce wood with a somewhat coarse texture, resulting from the difference in density between light earlywood and heavier latewood.
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