Shortleaf Pine

Family: 
Pinaceae (pines)
Description: 

A large tree with a long, clear trunk and broad, open crown.

Leaves needles, from persistent sheaths at the base of the needles; needles in bundles of 2 (sometimes 3), 3–5 inches long, slender, flexible, not twisted, sharp-pointed, dark bluish-green.

Bark thick, reddish-brown to nearly black, broken into large, irregular, scaly plates.

Twigs stiff, stout, rough, brittle, green at first turning gray to reddish-brown with age, usually covered with a whitish coating.

"Flowers" (sheds pollen) March–April, with male and female cones found on the same tree; male cones in clusters at the tips of twigs, yellowish-brown to purple, ¾ inch long.

Fruits September–October, maturing the second year, persistent on the branches, a woody cone in clusters of 1–3, hanging, brown, 1½– 2½ inches long, narrowly egg-shaped; scales separating at maturity, tips with sharp, curved spines.

Size: 
Height: to 120 feet.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs in moist to dry upland forests and margins of glades on acidic soils derived from sandstone, chert or igneous substrates; also grown in plantations. The only native pine in Missouri. Pine woodlands were once a major natural community in the Ozarks, but extensive logging from 1890 to 1920 devastated those vast communities. Oaks then spread into the former pinelands. Today, some scattered pine populations, mostly on public lands, are being managed to preserve the natural character.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Naturally occurring mainly in the Ozarks of southern Missouri, but commonly planted elsewhere.
Status: 
Once a dominant tree community over much of the Ozarks, shortleaf pine woodlands are being restored not only for their intrinsic value and the sake of the plants and animals associated with them, but also for future generations to know and appreciate this part of our state’s natural heritage.
Human connections: 
Missouri’s shortleaf pine forests provided innumerable railroad ties for our nation’s expanding transportation network in the early 20th century. The wood is also used for general construction, exterior and interior finishing, and pulpwood. Teas made from pines were used to treat many ailments.
Ecosystem connections: 
It is hard to place a value on what was once the dominant tree over many thousands of acres, influencing the soils below and defining the character and community of all the plants and animals that lived beneath its canopy. Many birds and small mammals eat the seeds, and deer browse the new twigs.