USA Official State Tree of Alabama

Alabama (AL)

Southern Longleaf Pine

photo of Southern Longleaf pine

Piinus palustris P. Miller.)

Adopted in 1949; 1997.

The Legislature first designated the state as the Southern pine tree in 1949. Because there are so many kinds of pine trees, the Southern Longleaf Pine, Pinus palustris Miller, was specified as the state tree of Alabama by the Legislature in 1997. Longleaf pine is distributed primarily in the lower two thirds of the state. It may be distinguished by the needles which occur in bundles of threes and are about 12 inches long. The cones are about seven inches long. Longleaf pine is peculiar among all trees in that it develops very little above ground during the first one to five years of its life. During this time the top is a dense bunch of green needles and is often mistaken for grass. This tree is found on a variety of sites but grows best on well-drained sandy soils. Longleaf pine can grow to a height of about 150 feet and a diameter of nearly four feet.

The Southern Longleaf Pine was specified as the state tree of Alabama by the legislature in 1997. (Act no. 548)

The very long needles and cones and the needles in bundles of 3 are characteristic of this species. The buds of non-growing season individuals are a distinctive white.

Long-leaf Pine might be confused with three other species in its native range; Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda), Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii), and Pond Pine (Pinus serotina). Usually the needles and cones are longer than in any of these three species. The needles of Slash Pine are usually in bundles of 2, although bundles of 3 also exist. The cones of Loblolly Pine are only 2 to 6 inches long (not the 6 to 10 inches of Long-leaf Pine and the cone is rounder and less elongate. The cones of Pond Pine are only 2 to 2.5 inches in length and again the needles are generally shorter (6 to 8 inches long) relative to the 8 to 18 inch length of Lonf-leaf Pine.

Description:
  • Leaf: Evergreen, very long and feathery (8 to 18 inches long), with three dark green needles per fascicle.
  • Flower: Monoecious; males yellow-red, long, in clusters; females oval, purple.
  • Fruit: Very large (largest cone in the Eastern U. S. --6 to 10 inches long), ovoid to conical in shape, sessile. Scales are red-brown in color. The umbo is armed with a curved prickle. Maturing September to October.
  • Twig: Very stout, brown, with large obvious, asbestos-white buds.
  • Bark: Quite scaly, orange-brown to gray, will eventually develop plates.
  • Form: A medium-sized tree with a straight trunk, coarse branches and tufted needles at ends of branches.

Kingdom
Superdivision
Division
Class
Order
Family
Genus
Species
Spermatophyta Seed plants
Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Coniferophyta Conifers
Pinopsida
Pinales
Pinaceae Pine family
Pinus L. pine
Pinus palustris P. Mill. longleaf pine

Taxonomic Hierarchy
Source:
Dendrology at Virginia Tech
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Act 49-143, Acts of Alabama, June 28, 1948
Act 97-548, Acts of Alabama, May 22, 1997
Alabama State Emblems, Alabama Department of Archives and History, nd.
http://www.forestry.state.al.us/statetree.htm