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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Loblolly Pine

Loblolly Pine

(Pinus taeda L.)


Loblolly 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 another year.

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 Carolina.

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