The land of the long leaf pine

Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to “Down Home,” the Old North State!
Here’s to the land of the cotton bloom white,
Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate,
‘Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!
Here’s to the land where the galax grows,
Where the rhododendron’s rosette glows,
Where soars Mount Mitchell’s summit great,
In the “Land of the Sky,” in the Old North State!
Here’s to the land where maidens are fair,
Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
The near land, the dear land, whatever fate,
The blessed land, the best land, the Old North State!

Although many know North Carolina as home of the “long leaf pine,” what many people do not realize is that long leaf pine is fire resistant. Unlike other plants, longleaf pine starts in a “grass” stage that do not look like trees at all. Its vertical grow may take several years before hitting a growth spurt, and fires cannot penetrate through the tightly-packed needle-bases to reach the bud.

 

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Grass Stage; the tightly-packed needle-base makes this tree fire-resistant

 

Longleaf pines depend on fire to grow well. It is sought after for telephone poles and the lumber is dense enough to be “heart pine.”

 

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Post grass stage; it takes years for the tree to get ankle-high

Although North Carolina is the state of the long leaf pine, the tree is disappearing from the landscape as our urban centers become bigger as well as from the genetically improved fast growing loblolly pine. The lands that are naturally regenerating are quite extraordinary.

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Mature timber

Longleaf grows in sandy soils so the Sandhills are its best habitat. That said, the range of longleaf goes as far north as Alamance County.

 

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Excellent wildlife habitat, some tree farmers collect pine straw for sale

Knowing the resilience and significance of this tree, it’s important for us to preserve this state legacy whenever we can.

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Longleaf can be important to watershed management

 

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