Shortleaf pine, Pinus echinata, is one of four major southern yellow pines found in the forests of NC. Due to its adaptability to a great variety of soil and site conditions, shortleaf pine has the widest range of any pine in the southeastern United States, growing in 22 states from southern Pennsylvania to eastern Texas.. Historically it is found in almost every county of NC. However, shortleaf pine is more predominant in the piedmont and mountain regions where it competes better with other trees. In spite of shortleaf pine's adaptability it has experienced a decline in acres across NC.
Shortleaf pine numbers are decreasing in both the natural communities where it grows in small groves or as scattered individuals and in the larger stands that colonized abandoned farm fields in the 1920- 30s. The reason for the drop is elimination of burning, conversion to other land uses and forest types, lack of forest management, and harvesting of aging stands. Since 1990 the acreage of shortleaf pine in North Carolina has dropped by 60 percent.
Shortleaf pine is a good option for woodland owners in the Piedmont and foothills of NC who enjoy watching wildlife, hunting, a walk in the woods, but still want a source of income from their forests. Shortleaf grows well in a variety of forest types such as a bluestem grass savanna, mixed oak – pine stand, or pine plantations. Shortleaf pine’s superior wood properties, excellent tree form, small knots, drought tolerance, ice damage resistance, and fire resilience are attributes attractive to landowners interested in managing for both wildlife habitat and high quality timber.
Contact your county forest ranger if you're interested in managing your land for shortleaf pine.