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Shortleaf Pine Information

     Shortleaf pine, Pinus echinata, is one of the four most important commercial softwoods in the southern United States.  It has the widest geographical range of any of the southern yellow pines covering the landscape from New York to Florida, the Atlantic Coast to west Texas.  It is second only to loblolly pine in standing timber volume in these areas.  A major contributor to this fact is shortleaf's ability to adapt to a great variety of site and soil conditions.  Found on drier ridge sites where there is less competing vegetation, the species will grow best on deep well-drained soils.  Wet sites need to be avoided in order to prevent littleleaf disease, a serious pathological threat to the species.

     Shortleaf pine seedlings are shade intolerant and will generally do poor on sites with high levels of competition.  When compared to loblolly seedlings and hardwood regeneration, the shortleaf pine grows much slower and takes much longer to dominate a site.  Long term rotations must be considered to gain the full economic return on an investment in shortleaf pine.  Control of site competition, both woody and non-woody plants, will result in increased economic gains for the landowner.

     Several species of wildlife will utilize shortleaf stands.  White-tailed deer will often be found browsing on the succulent needles of young seedlings.  Songbirds, dove, and quail will seek shelter in shortleaf stands due to the resilience the species shows during wind, ice, and storm events.  Older individuals with red heart rot are the choice nesting grounds of the Red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species.

     Shortleaf pine was initially planted as an erosion control measure.  However, that use is declining because of the popularity of faster growing loblolly pine and that shortleaf pine does not create as much of a litter layer as other species.  Shortleaf pine is more ice resistant than loblolly pine and is preferred in ice-prone areas.  Shortleaf pine is now primarily used for lumber, plywood, and other structural materials.  It can be used as pulpwood as well.  Many log-home builders and owners prefer shortleaf logs to other pine species for its dense wood, aesthetic, and sound structural qualities. 


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