Virginia Pine, Pinus virginiana

Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana) grows in southern New York from Long Island and continues through the Appalachian Mountains to western Tennessee and Alabamain elevations as high as 2953 feet. This tree is also known as the scrub pine, spruce pine, or Jersey pine. The Harvard Arboretum in Boston, MA has cultivated Virginia pine on display.

The Virginia pine is a medium sized tree growing from 29.5 – 59 feet tall with some getting as tall as 105 feet in perfect conditions. This tree grows best in well-drained loam or clay but can grow in sandy soil but will not grow as tall. This is a short-lived tree living 65-90 years.

The trunk of this tree is usually straight but can also be twisted with the crown having an irregular shape. The trunk can grow up to 1.64 feet in diameter with the bark being smooth when immature, turning scaly and reddish in color as it ages before turning thick and gray-brown. The needles are pale yellow-green to a deep green and grow in bundles of two, usually twisted, and measures from 0.78-3.15 inches long. The needles can live on the tree for three to four years. The Virginia pine grows both the pollen and seed cones on the same tree with the pollen cones growing from 0.39-0.78 inches long and is the color of red-brown or yellow. The seed cones measure 1.18-3.15 inches long when open and are brown in color. Seed cones grow in the crown of the tree and hang on for up to fifteen years but releases the seeds in the second year. Seeds are brown and measure 0.157-0.275 inches long with wings measuring 0.787 inches long.

The Virginia pine is planted on the surface of coalmine spoils and abandoned fields. This tree is mainly used for pulp but can be used for mine timbers, railroad ties, rough lumber, fuel, tar, and charcoal. The Cherokee Indians used this tree for medicinal purposes including chewing the bark to control diarrhea; as a cold remedy by mixing with steam and oil; needles are infused to treat fever; roots used to treat hemorrhoids; tar was used to treat tuberculosis; treatment for constipation as well as intestinal worms, measles and other diseases.

Image Caption: Pollen cones of the Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana). Credit: Famartin/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)