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Pinus palustris: Longleaf Pine1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean 2


This beautiful, native North American pine tree is capable of reaching 60 to 125 feet in height with a 30 to 40-foot-spread but is more often seen smaller. It is usually saved on a construction site for use as a specimen in the landscape or for providing dappled shade. Be sure to protect the area beneath the dripline from heavy equipment during construction. Longleaf pine stays in its tufted, grass-like stage for five to seven years after germinating, growing very slowly while it develops a root system, then takes off at a moderate rate. The bright green, evergreen needles are up to 14 inches long and very flexible, giving an almost weeping effect to the tree. A distinctive characteristic of longleaf pine is the new growth clusters, or buds, which are silvery white during the winter. The inconspicuous spring flowers are followed by a large, spiny cone, 6 to 10 inches long, which persist on the tree for a couple of years.

Figure 1. Full Form - Pinus palustris: longleaf pine
Figure 1.  Full Form - Pinus palustris: longleaf pine
Credit: UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Pinus palustris

Pronunciation: PIE-nus pal-US-triss

Common name(s): longleaf pine

Family: Pinaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 7A through 10A (Figure 2)

Origin: native to the southeastern United States

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: native

Uses: reclamation; specimen; shade

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range


Height: 60 to 125 feet

Spread: 30 to 40 feet

Crown uniformity: irregular

Crown shape: oval

Crown density: open

Growth rate: fast

Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: spiral; typically in groups of 3 per fascicle but occasionally in groups of 2

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: needle-like (filiform)

Leaf venation: parallel

Leaf type and persistence: needled evergreen, evergreen, fragrant

Leaf blade length: 8 to 14 inches

Leaf color: bright green

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Leaf - Pinus palustris: longleaf pine
Figure 3.  Leaf - Pinus palustris: longleaf pine
Credit: UF/IFAS


Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristics: not showy

Figure 4. Cone, Young - Pinus palustris: longleaf pine
Figure 4.  Cone, Young - Pinus palustris: longleaf pine
Credit: UF/IFAS


Fruit shape: elongated, cone 9

Fruit length: 6 to 12 inches

Fruit covering: dry or hard

Fruit color: brown

Fruit characteristics: attracts squirrels/mammals; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem; sits sessile

Figure 5. Cone, Mature - Pinus palustris: longleaf pine
Figure 5.  Cone, Mature - Pinus palustris: longleaf pine
Credit: UF/IFAS

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: branches droop; showy; typically one trunk; no thorns

Bark: orange, brown, gray, scaly, and develops flat plates

Pruning requirement: little required

Breakage: susceptible to breakage

Current year twig color: brown

Current year twig thickness: very thick

Wood specific gravity: 0.59

Figure 6. Bark - Pinus palustris: longleaf pine
Figure 6.  Bark - Pinus palustris: longleaf pine
Credit: Gitta Hasing, UF/IFAS


Light requirement: full sun

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; acidic; slightly alkaline; well-drained

Drought tolerance: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: high


Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: no

Outstanding tree: yes

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant

Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Longleaf pine is not usually planted in landscapes, but could be used due to its beautiful bark and nice, open habit. It would be suited for planting in large landscapes, such as golf courses and parks, and in other areas with plenty of overhead space. It would probably adapt to the hot conditions created near concrete and asphalt, but dropping needles often discourage people from planting pines near streets or other pavement. This may be a small price to pay for having this tree in the landscape. If people would start planting this tree, it might catch on as slash pine has in parts of the South.

Longleaf pine should be grown in full sun or partial shade on well-drained, acidic soil. Once established, trees are very drought-tolerant and require no irrigation for survival.

Propagation is by seed. Seedling trees in the wild usually transplant poorly due to a long tap root.


Some of its pests are borers, sawflies, pine-shoot moth, and pine weevils. Pine bark beetles will occasionally attack old trees which are stressed.


No diseases are of major concern. This plant is resistant to fusiform rust.


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.


1. This document is ENH-628, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #ENH-628

Release Date:April 26, 2019

Related Collections

Part of Southern Trees Fact Sheets

    Organism ID


    • Andrew Koeser