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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Virginia Pine

Virginia Pine

(Pinus virginiana Mill.)


Virginia pine, also known as spruce pine or scrub pine, typically grows in the Piedmont and mountains, up to elevations of 4,500 feet. It is found frequently in pure stands in old fields and seeds in readily on severely eroded and dry soils.

The side branches usually persist or remain on the tree for many years after dying, giving the tree a scrubby, untidy appearance. Virginia pine needles are 11/2 to 3 inches long, stout, yellow-green and usually twisted. They grow in bundles of two.

Cones are dark reddish-brown, ovoid (egg-shaped), lustrous, 11/2 to 2 3/4 inches long and are armed with a sharp spine at the tip of each scale. They ripen in the fall after two growing seasons and remain on the tree for several years after seed-fall.

Virginia pine is a small tree, 50 to 80 feet tall, with a trunk that rarely reaches more than 8 to 14 inches in diameter. The long, horizontal branches often droop to form an open, ragged, flat-topped crown.

The bark is thin, reddish-brown and is broken into shallow plates. Except in the occasional large trees, the wood is very knotty because of persistent side branches. The lumber increasingly is used for rough construction, but it warps easily with alternate wetting and drying. It has a very long fiber and is an excellent pulping species.

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