pine is the most important commercial timber tree in North Carolina.
It is a fast-growing member of the yellow pine group, which
grows in an area extending from the Coastal Plain throughout
the eastern Piedmont. Within this area, loblolly is by far the
most common pine.
Loblolly pine needles occur in clusters of three. They are slender
and stiff, 6 to 9 inches long and pale green. They drop during
the third season.
The oblong cones are 2 to 6 inches long, light reddish to brown
and are armed with a spine at the tip of each scale. Cones drop
their seeds in autumn and winter but remain on the tree for
At 60 years, the mature bark is thick, bright reddish to brown
and is divided by shallow fissures into broad, flat-topped plates
covered with thin scales. The tree often reaches 90 to 110 feet
in height on good sites, with a tall, cylindrical trunk 2 to
3 feet in diameter. The lower, short, thick branches on older
trees droop, while the higher branches grow upward. The mature
crown usually is compact and round-topped. The resinous wood
is coarse-grained, with a marked contrast -- as in the other
yellow pines -- between the bands of spring and summer wood.
Loblolly has a wide range of uses, such as lumber, pulpwood,
plywood, poles and piling. Because it is useful and grows very
quickly, loblolly is the target of much of the forest management
in North Carolina -- and in the entire Southeast. It is the
most widely planted forest tree, and many thousands of acres
of productive loblolly pine plantations are now growing in North