USA Official State Tree of North Carolina

Longleaf PineTree, a state symbol

(Pinaceae Pinus palustris)
Adopted in 1963.


The pine, Pinaceae Pinus palustris,  was officially designated as the State Tree by the General Assembly of 1963. (Session Laws, 1963, c. 41).


The pine is the most common of the trees found in North Carolina, as well as the most important one in the history of our State. During the Colonial and early Statehood periods, the pine was a vital part of the economy of North Carolina. From it came many of the "naval stores" - resin, turpentine, and timber - needed by merchants and the navy for their ships. The pine has continued to supply North Carolina with many important wood products, particularly in the building industry.


Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), whose species name means "of the marsh," has been locally referred to as longstraw, yellow, southern yellow, swamp, hard or heart, pitch, and Georgia pine. In presettlement times, this premier timber and naval stores tree grew in extensive pure stands throughout the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains. At one time the longleaf pine forest may have occupied as much as 24 million ha (60 million acres), although by 1985 less than 1.6 million ha (4 million acres) remained.

  • 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.


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


Dendrology at Virginia Tech
U.S. Department of Agriculture