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Representative painting of an old-growth tree on the floodplain at Congaree Swamp National Park (National Park Service, 1995).


A typical tree in the Congaree Swamp forest: 116 cm dbh [C.J. Earle, 1999.03].


Bark of a tree in Congaree Swamp. Rule is 15 cm long [C.J. Earle, 1999.03].


Branch with foliage and cones, near Congaree Swamp, SC [C.J. Earle, 1999.03].


Seed cone, Weymouth Woods, NC [C.J. Earle, 2006.03].


Ripe pollen cones, Weymouth Woods, NC [C.J. Earle, 2006.03].


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Conservation status

Pinus taeda

Linnaeus 1753, p. 1000

Common names

Loblolly pine (Kral 1993), North Carolina pine, oldfield pine, bull pine, rosemary pine. Commonly called "taeda" when used in plantation forestry outside its native range.

Taxonomic notes

It occurs in subgenus Pinus, subsection Australes Loudon. This subsection is comprised largely of species found in the SE US and Caribbean, and includes most of the pines that co-occur with this species in mixed stands, such as P. echinata, P. elliottii, P. glabra, Pinus palustris, and P. serotina.

Pinus taeda forms a variety of natural hybrids. Natural hybrids with Pinus serotina have been observed in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and North Carolina (Baker and Langdon 1990). Natural hybrids with P. rigida occur in New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland (Fowells 1965 and Saylor and Kang 1973, both cited in Baker and Langdon 1990), and natural hybrids of with P. echinata occur in Oklahoma and east Texas (Dorman 1976, Fowells 1965, and Hare & Switzer 1969, all cited in Baker and Langdon 1990), and probably also in Louisiana and Arkansas (Baker and Langdon 1990). The natural hybrid with Pinus palustris is often called Pinus × sondereggeri, although the name Pinus × sondereggeri has not been validly published (Chapman [1922] merely suggested the name "Pinus Sondereggeri"). See the "Remarks" section for further information on this widespread natural hybrid.


"Trees to 46 m; trunk to 160 cm diam., usually straight, without adventitious shoots; crown broadly conic to rounded. Bark red-brown, forming square or irregularly rectangular, scaly plates, resin pockets absent. Branches spreading-ascending; twigs moderately slender (to ca. 1 cm thick), orangish to yellow-brown, aging darker brown, rough. Buds lance-cylindric, pale red-brown, 1-1.2(1) cm, mostly less than 1 cm broad, slightly resinous; scale margins white-fringed, apex acuminate. Leaves 2-3 per fascicle, ascending to spreading, persisting 3 years, (10)12-18(23) cm × 1-2 mm, straight, slightly twisted, pliant, deep yellow-green, all surfaces with narrow stomatal lines, margins finely serrulate, apex acute to abruptly conic-subulate; sheath 1-2.5 cm, base persistent. Pollen cones cylindric, 20-40 mm, yellow to yellow-brown. Seed cones maturing in 2 years, shedding seeds soon thereafter, not persistent, solitary or in small clusters, nearly terminal, symmetric, lanceoloid before opening, narrowly ovoid when open, 6-12 cm, mostly dull yellow-brown, sessile to nearly sessile, scales without dark border on adaxial surface distally; apophyses dull, slightly thickened, variously raised (more so toward cone base), rhombic, strongly transversely keeled; umbo central, recurved, stoutly pyramidal, tapering to stout-based, sharp prickle. Seeds obdeltoid; body 5-6 mm, red-brown; wing to 20 mm. 2n=24" (Kral 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

USA: New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas at 0-700 m elevation. Habitat mesic lowlands and swamp borders, to dry uplands (Kral 1993). Hardy to Zone 7 (cold hardiness limit between -17.7°C and -12.2°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001). See also Thompson et al. (1999).

Distribution data from USGS (1999).

Big tree

Diameter 152 cm, height 45 m, crown spread 25 m, located in Warren, AR (American Forests 1996). Southease of Warren, Ashley County also has some large trees, and General Land Office survey records (which are the closest thing we have to presettlement data) record trees up to 182 cm dbh (18.8 feet girth) (Bragg 2006). The largest tree in South Carolina, in Congaree Swamp National Park, has a dbh of 152 cm, height 44 m, stem volume 42 m3 (Robert Van Pelt e-mail 2004.02.17). Other trees in the Congaree have been measured to heights as great as 52.7 m (173 feet), with the tallest (probably still) living tree measured at 51.4 m (168.7 feet) (Blozan 2005). These are lasered heights calculated during a comprehensive survey; taller trees have been reported from the Congaree in the past, but they were measured using survey methods notoriously prone to overestimation (Will Blozan e-mail 2007.08.27). Trees up to 46 m tall have been reported for the Lost Forty forest (33° 23'N, 92° 23'W) in south-central Arkansas (Heitzman et al. 2004).

A tree 60.0 m tall was climbed and measured on 2011.02.18, at the Buffelsnek plantation, Knysna, South Africa (Leon Visser email 2014.11.05).


There is a crossdated age of 191 years for specimen UC04-2 collected at Union Camp Big Woods, North Carolina by A.C. Barefoot and W.L. Hafley in 1985 (NCDC 2006). Pederson (2006) reports a ring-counted age of 241 years for a big tree in the Congaree National Park, South Carolina.



In the southeast US, P. taeda is commonly used in plantation forestry, along with P. elliottii and P. echinata. Commercially, it is a valuable pulpwood and timber species (Kral 1993). It is also an important timber species outside its native range, with substantial plantations in South Africa, Zimbabwe, southern Brazil, Argentina, China and Australia.


One of the best places to see old-growth loblolly pines is Congaree National Park, South Carolina, where the trees grows as emergents approximately 46 m tall above a subtropical broadleaf floodplain forest canopy. Another old growth forest remnant occurs in Arkansas at the Levi Wilcoxon Demonstration Forest (LWDF) south of Hamburg (Bragg 2006). It is also well represented in a mixed stand with Pinus palustris at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in North Carolina.


The epithet taeda is a Latin word for pine wood, or for a torch (Farjon 2010).

Originally most races of Pinus taeda were in the lowlands. Following disturbance of the natural vegetation after settlement by Europeans, the species spread to fine-textured, fallow, upland soils, where it now occurs intermixed with P. echinata and P. virginiana (Kral 1993).

The natural hybrid with Pinus palustris is commonly called Pinus × sondereggeri, bastard pine, or Sonderegger pine (named for the Louisiana state forester who called its existence to the attention of H.H. Chapman). The hybrid is widespread and occurs in Louisiana and east Texas. It arises when the cone of P. palustris is fertilized by the pollen of P. taeda. The resulting trees generally have intermediate characters, but lack the "grass stage" and early slow growth of P. palustris; conversely, the cones are more like P. palustris than P. taeda. Chapman (1922) provides further details of identification. Chapman also claims superior growth performance for the hybrid, but a more recent and quantitative study indicates that height, diameter and volume were not significantly different from P. taeda for a 20-year-old plantation in South Carolina (Henderson and Schoenike 1981).


Baker, J.B. and O.G. Langdon. 1990. Loblolly Pine, in Burns and Honkala (1990).

Blozan, Will. 2005. Congaree National Park 1/14-16/2004., accessed 2007.08.27.

Bragg, Don. 2006. LWDF and a champion shortleaf pine., accessed 2007.08.27.

Chapman, H.H. 1922. A new hybrid pine. Journal of Forestry 20:729-734.

Dorman, Keith W. 1976. The genetics and breeding of southern pines. Agriculture Handbook 471. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 407 p.

Fowells, H. A., comp. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. Agriculture Handbook 271. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 762 p.

Hare, R.C., and G.L. Switzer. 1969. Introgression with shortleaf pine may explain rust resistance in western loblolly pine. USDA Forest Service, Research Note SO-88. Southern Forest Experiment Station, New Orleans, LA. 7 p.

Heitzman, E., M.G. Shelton, and A. Grell. 2004. Species composition, size structure, and disturbance history of an old-growth bottomland hardwood-loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) forest in Arkansas, USA. Natural Areas Journal 24(3):177-187. Available: (2008.10.15).

Henderson, L.T. and R.E. Schoenike. 1981. How good is Sonderegger pine? Southern Journal of Applied Forestry 5(4):183-186.

National Park Service. 1995. Congaree Swamp Official Map and Guide. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office [Paintings by John Dawson].

[NCDC 2006] Data accessed at the National Climatic Data Center World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Tree-Ring Data Search Page, 2006.09.08. URL:

Saylor, L.C. and K.W. Kang. 1973. A study of sympatric populations of Pinus taeda L. and Pinus serotina Michx. in North Carolina. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 89:101-110.

See also

The FEIS database.

Pederson, N., R.H. Jones, and R.R. Sharitz. 1997. Age structure of old-growth loblolly pine stands in a floodplain forest. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 124(2):111-123.

Schultz, R. P. 1997. Loblolly Pine. USDA. For. Serv. Agric. Handb. 73. Washington DC.

Wagner, D. B., Nance, W. L., Nelson, C. D., Li, T., Patel, R. N. and Govindaraju, D. R. 1991. Taxonomic patterns and inheritance of chloroplast variation in a survey of Pinus echinata, Pinus elliottii, Pinus palustris, and Pinus taeda. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 22:683-689.

Wu and Raven (1999): the Flora of China, which is available online, has a good description and line drawing (it is a common plantation species in parts of China).

Last Modified 2017-01-16