Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) is one of the pines native to the southeast United States. The trees reach a height of 30-35 m with a diameter of 0.4-1.5 m. Exceptional specimens may reach 45 m tall, the largest of the southern pines. Its needles are in bundles of three, sometimes twisted, and measure 12-22 cm long: an intermediate length for southern pines, shorter than those of the Longleaf Pine or Slash Pine, but longer than those of the Shortleaf Pine and Spruce Pine. The cones are green, ripening pale buff-brown, 7-13 cm in length, 2-3 cm broad when closed, opening to 4-6 cm wide, each scale bearing a sharp 3-6 mm spine.
The name loblolly means a low wet place, but these trees are not limited to that specific habitat. Other common names include: Oldfield Pine, due to loblolly's status as an early colonizer of abandonded fields; Bull Pine, due to its size (several other yellow pines are also often so named, especially large isolated specimens); and Rosemary Pine, due to loblolly's distinctive fragrance compared to the other southern pines (the fragrance is more akin to that of gin than rosemary).
With the advent of fire control, Loblolly Pines have come to dominate areas in the deep south that were once populated with greater numbers of Longleaf Pine and, especially in Florida, Slash Pine. Loblolly's rate of growth is rapid, even among the generally fast-growing southern pines. The yellowish, resinous wood is highly prized for lumber, but is also used for pulp fibers. This tree is commercially grown in extensive plantations, along with Slash Pine.
Although Loblolly Pine grows primarily in the deep south, it ranges north along the mid-Atlantic coast to Delaware, in the interior north to eastern Tennessee, and as far west as central Texas. Loblolly Pine is the pine of the "Lost Pines" area around Bastrop, Texas and in McKinney Roughs along the Texas Colorado River. These are isolated populations on areas of acidic sandy soil, surrounded by alkaline clays that are poor for pine growth.
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