The Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) is a pine native to the southeast United States, found along the coastal plain from eastern Texas to southeast Virginia extending into northern and central Florida.
Longleaf Pine takes 100 to 150 years to become full size and can live to 500 years old. When young, they grow a long taproot, which is usually 2–3 m (6.6–9.8 ft) long; by maturity they have a wide spreading lateral root system with several deep 'sinker' roots. It grows on well-drained, usually sandy soil, often in pure stands.
Before European settlement the Longleaf Pine pine forest dominated as much as 90,000,000 acres (360,000 km2) stretching from Virginia south to Florida and west to eastern Texas. Its range was defined by the frequent widespread fires that occurred throughout the southeast. In the late 19th century, these virgin timber stands were "among the most sought after timber trees in the country." This rich ecosystem has now been relegated to less than 5% of its presettlement range due to clear cutting practices.
Joseph Jones Ecological Research Center
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