Sand Pine, Pinus clausa

Sand Pine (Pinus clausa) is found along the Florida coasts line mainly the Florida Peninsula from Tampa to Naples on the Gulf Coast and from St. Augustine to Fort Lauderdale on the Atlantic Coast. Some trees can be found in higher elevations of the peninsula from Clay County to Lake Okeechobee. The sand pine grows best in sandy and otherwise unsuitable soil depleted of any nutrients.

The sand pine is a short and shrubby tree, which grows to heights of 16-33 feet with some growing to 69 feet in the right conditions. The trunk grows to 12 inches around with the bark being very rough with outer layers that flake and fall off. The branches are small, twig like, and smooth. The needles grow in bundles of two and measure 2.0-3.9 inches long. The cones grow in clusters and measure 1.6-3.1 inches long. The cones are coated with a wax keeping the cones closed until the mother tree dies; usually from a forest fire.

The wood of the sand pine is mostly used for pulpwood in Florida. The trees planted in the Ocala National Forest in Central Florida are used specifically for the pulpwood industry. The trees are uprooted or cut down and shredded to make wood chips suitable for paper making. The Forest Service will then replant more Sand pines to keep up the production of pulpwood. The Sand pine provides habitat for the Florida Sand Skink, a lizard that lives underground.

Image Caption: Sand Pine (Pinus clausa). Credit: Mason Brock/Wikipedia (public domain)