Shortleaf Pine Tree - Pinus echinata
It is capable of establishing itself in sparse conditions and to flourish on even a poor site. That is due to a deep taproot and its consistent diameter growth pattern. This tree will maintain itself in a stand once it reaches the dominant crown canopy position. The trees occur in dry to moist forests and glades on acidic soils. The thick bark is reddish-brown to almost black. The twigs are green and turn to gray or reddish-brown, covered with a white coating. The flowers in March and April have male and female cones on the same tree. The sharp-pointed dark bluish-green needles are three to five inches long in bundles of two or three. The fruits in September and October are a woody hanging brown cone in clusters of one to three, in a narrow egg shape, and with tips having curved sharp spines. The growing areas range from Florida to southern New Jersey and in the west to Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri. It is Missouri's only native pine and was once a major tree in upland forests in the Ozarks. However, extensive logging from 1890 to 1920 devastated them. These forests provided railroad ties in the early 20th century. Today, some pines, mostly on public lands, are being managed to reintroduce and preserve them. The taproot was originally used for pulpwood, and the upper stem was saw timber. Today, it is still saw timber and is perfect for log homes because of its dense and tight wood. The wood is also used for pulpwood, general construction, and interior and exterior finishing. This tree is an excellent cavity tree for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and provides protection for a variety of small birds and mammals who eat the seeds while deer prefer the new twigs.