Loblolly pine is a North American native which is usually seen from 50 to 80 feet tall with a 35-foot-spread though it is capable of reaching more than 150 feet in height. This extremely fast-growing pine is pyramidal when young making it ideal for screening but loses its lower limbs as it grows older becoming a tall, stately specimen, windbreak, or dappled-shade tree. The six to nine-inch-long evergreen needles turn light green to brown during the winter. The often-paired cones are three to six inches long, red/brown, and have very sharp spines. They persist on the tree for several years and mature in the fall. The bark of loblolly pine is very thick which helps make this tree very resistant to fire in the wild.
Scientific name: Pinus taeda
Pronunciation: PIE-nus TEE-duh
Common name(s): loblolly pine
USDA hardiness zones: 6B through 9B (Figure 2)
Origin: native to eastern Texas, then east through the southeastern United States, and north along the eastern seaboard to New Jersey
UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: native
Uses: screen; reclamation; specimen; shade
Height: 50 to 80 feet
Spread: 30 to 35 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: oval
Crown density: open
Growth rate: fast
Leaf arrangement: alternate; typically in groups of 3 per fascicle, but occasionally in groups of 2 (Fig. 7)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: needle-like (filiform)
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: fragrant, evergreen, needled evergreen
Leaf blade length: 6 to 9 inches
Leaf color: light green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy
Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristics: not showy
Fruit shape: oval, cone
Fruit length: 3 to 6 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: red brown
Fruit characteristics: attracts squirrels/mammals; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem; sits sessile to the branch, and often emerges in pairs of 2
Trunk and Branches
Trunk/branches: branches don't droop; not showy; typically one trunk; no thorns
Bark: gray brown and scaly, turning red brown and developing deep furrows and round ridges with age
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: brown
Current year twig thickness: thick, medium
Wood specific gravity: 0.51
Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; occasionally wet to well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate
Roots: can form large surface roots
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: sensitive
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases
Use and Management
Pines are often grouped together in a landscape and they are becoming more popular for planting in parks and in commercial landscapes. They create a light shade which allows grass and other plants to easily grow beneath the canopy. People often complain about the dropping needles, but these may be the same people who complain when it rains.
Loblolly pine should be grown in full sun on well-drained, acid soil. It is drought-tolerant once established.
The cultivar 'Nana' reaches only 8 to 16 feet in height making it ideal for use as a specimen or screen. It has a dense, rounded silhouette and may become popular, especially for small-scale landscapes, once people discover it.
Propagation is by seed. Young trees larger than four feet tall are very difficult to transplant.
Some of this tree's pests are pine bark beetle, borers, pine tip moth, and sawflies.
Loblolly is susceptible to fusiform rust and heart rot.
Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.