Loblolly Pine Tree (Pinus taeda)

Height: More than 100 feet at times; but usually 50 to 70 feet tall   

Evergreen/Deciduous: Evergreen  

Lifespan: Not particularly long-lived, but occasional specimens approach or exceed 200 years  

Fall Foliage: Green  

Range: Essentially a crescent-shaped swath of land from Delaware (east of the Appalachians), halfway down the Florida peninsula, and west to East Texas; most common in the piedmont

Typical Habitat: Only climbs to about 2400 feet or so, but found in a variety of habitats below that level, including low-lying, swampy areas and exposed rocky outcrops   

The Loblolly Pine Tree: The Piedmont’s Premier Pioneer   

The loblolly pine is a pretty “weedy” species that can quickly take over a landscape. It readily colonizes disturbed areas, grows faster than most of the other trees in its range, and tolerates a variety of growing conditions.

Because it is such a hardy and quick-growing species, it is also a favorite of land developers. And because it is common in both natural and human-altered habitats, it is a ridiculously common tree throughout the southern portion of its range.  

Loblolly Pine Identification: Tips & Tricks

Within its range, the loblolly pine is probably most likely to be confused with the shortleaf (Pinus echinata) or longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), as they’re all relatively similar in overall appearance.

However, if the needles are accessible, they’re pretty easy to distinguish. The needles are about 5 to 8 inches long and (usually) bundled in groups of three. By contrast, the shortleaf pine’s needles are, well, shorter, and the longleaf pine’s needles are – wait for it – longer.

Loblolly pines also have relatively distinctive flaky bark with grey-colored outer layers and reddish-brown inner layers. It also lacks the resin blisters that shortleaf pine often bears.

The Loblolly Pine: Additional Information

Need more info about loblolly pines? Check out these great resources to learn more:

  • Conifers.org: A fantastic overall reference for loblolly pine trees, with detailed information on the largest and oldest specimens.
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: A great general resource that includes a bit of horticultural information for the species.   
  • U.S. Forest Service: A comprehensive guide, covering everything from growth rate to the species’ vulnerability to fire.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *