Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Pinus virginiana


SPECIES: Pinus virginiana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1993. Pinus virginiana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : PINVIR SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : PIVI2 COMMON NAMES : Virginia pine scrub pine Jersey pine spruce pine possum pine shortstraw pine poverty pine oldfield pine TAXONOMY : The currently accepted name of Virginia pine is Pinus virginiana Mill. There are no accepted subspecies, varieties, or forms [14,23,25]. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Pinus virginiana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : The native range of Virginia pine extends from southern New Jersey west to Pennsylvania and southern Ohio; south to South Carolina, northern Georgia, northern Alabama, and northern Mississippi [12,25].  It has also been planted in east-central Oklahoma [36]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine    FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine    FRES14  Oak - pine    FRES15  Oak - hickory STATES :      AL  DE  GA  IN  KY  MD  MS  NJ  NY  NC      OH  OK  PA  SC  TN  VA  WV BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K083  Cedar glades    K084  Cross Timbers    K089  Black Belt    K104  Appalachian oak forest    K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest    K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest    K112  Southern mixed forest SAF COVER TYPES :     40  Post oak - blackjack oak     43  Bear oak     45  Pitch pine     46  Eastern redcedar     50  Black locust     51  White pine - chestnut oak     52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak     53  White oak     55  Northern red oak     57  Yellow-poplar     64  Sassafras - persimmon     69  Sand pine     70  Longleaf pine     71  Longleaf pine - scrub oak     75  Shortleaf pine     78  Virginia pine - oak     79  Virginia pine     80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine     81  Loblolly pine     82  Loblolly pine - hardwood     83  Longleaf pine - slash pine    108  Red maple    110  Black oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Virginia pine can occur in pure stands or as a member of mixed pine-hardwood communities, particularly those with oak (Quercus spp.) [60].  It is associated with pitch pine (P. rigida) and Table Mountain pine (P. pungens) in the Appalachian Mountains.  On the eastern shores of Virginia and Maryland it is associated with loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). In the Peidmont region it is associated with shortleaf pine (P. echinata) and oaks [15]. Published classifications that include Virginia pine as a dominant or codominant species include the following: Classification and evaluation of forest sites in the Cumberland    Mountains [45] Classification and evaluation of forest sites on the    northern Cumberland Plateau [46] Classification and evaluation of forest sites on the    Natchez Trace State Forest [47] Southeastern evergreen and oak-pine region [55] Landscape ecosystem classification for South Carolina [63]


SPECIES: Pinus virginiana
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Virginia pine was previously used only for mine props, railroad ties, rough lumber, fuel, tar, and charcoal.  It currently has little importance for lumber, but is becoming more important as a pulpwood species, especially through the reforestation of abandoned agricultural lands, cutover, and mined sites [7,14,54].  Several thousand acres of land are planted in Virginia pine annually [25]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Virginia pine seeds are an important food source for many small mammals and birds, including northern bobwhites [14,52].  Virginia pine forms good nesting sites for woodpeckers due to a preponderance of softened wood in older trees [7].  When used for revegetation of mine spoils, Virginia pine has high value for wildlife cover and food [61].  It provides browse for white-tailed deer, and probably for other animals as well [52]. Virginia pine forests are the second highest producers of choice browse for white-tailed deer in the Oconee National Forest, Georgia [21]. Young Virginia pine stands provide good habitat for rabbits, northern bobwhite, and many nongame birds.  Mature stands with a sparse shrub layer are less valuable habitat [50]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The nutrient content (percent dry weight) of Virginia pine foliage was reported as follows [44]: Ca        0.55 Mg        0.08 P         0.10 K         0.32 lignin   33.6 COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Within its natural range, Virginia pine is often a pioneer on mined soils [61].  Virginia and loblolly pines have naturally reforested some surface coal mines in Alabama, and are substantial producers of commercial softwoods [30].  Natural revegetation on manganese mine spoils in Virginia and Tennessee includes Virginia pine.  It is widely planted in the middle and southern Appalachian region on surface coal mine spoils, and has good potential for revegetation of other disturbed sites [6,34,36,54]. Virginia pine is adapted to a wide range of mined soils and performs well on acidic and droughty sites [61].  On dark-colored coal mine wastes in Pennsylvania, Virginia pine was more resistant to heat damage than eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), Scotch pine (P. sylvestris) or jack pine (P. banksiana).  Plantings of Virginia pine outside its native range are usually invaded by hardwoods within 15 to 20 years [61]. Performance of Virginia pine on surface coal mine spoils varies with planting conditions and post-planting environmental conditions [42,53,54,59,62]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Virginia pine is planted for Christmas trees [7,14]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Virginia pine can produce good yields on sites that are marginal for loblolly pine.  Yields and performance vary with seed source [25,49]. Virginia pine is best managed with even-aged silvicultural systems. Strip and patch cutting in short rotations are successful techniques for harvest and regeneration of Virginia pine [18,50,58].  The transition from mostly pure Virginia pine stands to oak-pine or oak-hickory (Carya spp.) can be hastened by harvesting techniques [50,58]. Results of plantation trials of Virginia pine in the Cross Timbers area of Oklahoma varied with moisture availability; survival rates are mostly very high.  Virginia pine, therefore, has good potential for reforestation projects in this area [39].  Virginia pine is a common woody competitor of loblolly pine in plantations [35]. It is recommended that old, decaying trees be left standing near the margins of clearcuts for woodpecker nest sites [7].   Virginia pine can be propagated by grafting, and can be rooted from cuttings [7]. Principal diseases of Virginia pine include heart rot and pitch canker. Principal insect pests include the southern pine beetle, Ips spp., Virginia pine sawfly, redheaded pine sawfly, and pales weevil.  Meadow mice may girdle young trees [7].  Virgina pine is resistant to damage by ozone [13,20].


SPECIES: Pinus virginiana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Virginia pine is a native, medium-sized, two-needle pine.  Average height at maturity (50 years of age) is 50 to 75 feet (15-23 m) on better sites [7].  Its long horizontal branches are irregularly spaced [5,19].  Open-grown trees have persistent, heavy branches to the ground [25].  The trunk is relatively short, with an open, flat-topped crown [12].  The needles are about 2 inches (5 cm) long.  The bark of young stems is smooth; older stems have platy scales with shallow fissures [14,25].  It is relatively short-lived; senescence usually occurs around 65 to 90 years.  It rarely lives beyond 150 years of age [12,14,15].  The root system is relatively shallow except on deep sands, where the taproot can be from 6.6 to 10 feet (2-3 m) deep [25]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Age of sexual maturity for open-grown Virginia pine is usually around 5 years of age.  Some precocious specimens have flowered at 18 months. Sexual maturity may be delayed for up to 50 years of age in trees in suppressed stands [7].  Virginia pine is a prolific seed producer [15,29].  The cones open at maturity, and persist for at least several years [14].  Most seeds are dispersed within 100 feet (30 m) of the parent [7].  Exposed mineral soil is required for successful seedling establishment; little to no shade is required.  Seedlings are tolerant of lower soil moisture than most other pines, though growth is slower on dry sites [7].   Asexual regeneration:  Sprouts on cut stumps of Virginia pine have been reported, but are usually short lived [7]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Virginia pine grows soils derived from marine deposits, crystalline rocks, sandstones and shales, and to a lesser extent, limestone [7]. Most of these soils are well- to excessively drained, sandy, and weakly acidic [14,19,27,29].  The best growth of Virginia pine is on clay, loam, or sandy loam.  Growth is poor on serpentine, shallow shale, or very sandy soils [7].  Soil pH ranges from 4.6 to 7.9.  Virginia pine occurs at elevations from 50 to 2,500 feet (15-760 m), with hilly topography [7,27,58].   Tree associates not previously mentioned include scarlet oak (Q. coccinea), hickories (Carya ovata, C. ovalis, C. glabra), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and eastern white pine [7,33].  There is usually a sparse shrub understory [27]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Obligate Initial Community Species   Virginia pine is an aggressive invader of burned sites [5,14,37].  It is intolerant of shade [7,14].  Virginia pine is a transitional type, and is usually quickly replaced by tolerant hardwoods [7].  In pioneer stands in Virginia, Virginia pine made up to 50 percent of the total importance value.  Its importance decreases with stand age.  Mixed stands with white oak, yellow-poplar and sweetgum are formed by mid-succession. Late-successional stands are dominated by oaks and hickories, with very little Virginia pine remaining [38,50]. Virginia pine is usually well represented in early stages of oldfield succession on dry sites [40]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Virginia pine pollen is released from March to May, depending on latitude [7,14].  Fertilization occurs in June, 13 months after pollination.  Seeds mature by mid- to late August.  Cones mature by late September to early November.  Seed dispersal begins in October and is usually complete by January [7].


SPECIES: Pinus virginiana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Virginia pine is not well adapted to survive fire due to thin bark and shallow roots [12].  Large trees however, are apparently able to survive fires.  Virginia pine stands that include six size classes (d.b.h) have nbeen documented.  This size distribution is apparently due to fires that burned at approximately 20- to 30-year intervals.  The larger trees, therefore, survived at least one fire [3].  Virginia pine populations are maintained by fire or other disturbance; Virginia pine is a colonizer of recently burned sites [37].  Root crown sprouts have been reported, but are apparently not an important fire survival mechanism [7]. Fire regimes in habitats containing Virginia pine have been altered by humans for many years.  It is thought that prior to European settlement, Indians maintained large tracts of pine forests through intentional burning of forest lands for various purposes (e.g., agriculture, wildlife harvest) [9,57].  These fires created a patchwork of communities, increasing the amount of area covered by pioneer or pyrophytic species such as Virginia and pitch pines [57].  Currently, lightning fires do occur, but are of low importance compared to those started by people [9].  Landers [27] estimated the fire return interval in the southeastern United States at approximately 2 fires of high intensity per 100 years.  In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennesee and South Carolina, fire intervals for 1856 to 1900 and for 1900 to 1940 were both estimated to be 9.2 years below 2,000 feet (610 m) elevation, and 11.3 years above that elevation [22]. Virginia pine occurs in the area in and around Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, which has two fire seasons:  spring (February 15 to May 15) and fall (October 15 to December 15) [57]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Tree without adventitious-bud root crown    Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Pinus virginiana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Mature Virginia pine trees can withstand low- to moderate-severity surface fires.  Severe fires will kill Virginia pine [9]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Virginia pine is an aggressive invader of burned sites [37].  After a hot surface fire in a 30-year-old pine-hardwood stand, 45 percent of all trees died within 2 years.  There were large numbers of pine (Virginia and loblolly pine) seedlings by 2.25 years after the fire.  Density was 10,750 per acre, compared with 250 per acre on unburned plots [10].
The Research Project Summary Early postfire response of southern Appalachian
Table Mountain-pitch pine stands to prescribed fires in North Carolina and
provides information on prescribed fire use and postfire response
of plant community species, including Virginia pine, that was not available
when this species review was originally written.
Approximately one-half of the standing crop of Virginia pine needles is
shed annually.  Leaf litter produced by a 17-year-old stand was
calculated to be similar to the amount produced by longleaf pine (Pinus
palustris) [29,31,32].

Strip-clearcutting followed by broadcast burning of slash prior to
seedfall favors Virginia pine regeneration [29].

Crown fires in pine or pine-hardwood forests in which Virginia pine
occurs remove enough of the canopy for good Virginia pine regeneration.
Hot or cool surface fires do not remove sufficient canopy for good
Virginia pine regeneration [4].

Virginia pine is less resistant to fire than loblolly pine, shortleaf
pine, or pitch pine.  Fire will therefore reduce the importance of
Virginia pine in mixed stands [7].  Sapling stands are more vulnerable
to grass fires than similar-aged stands of shortleaf or loblolly pine

Thickness of Virginia pine bark was estimated at 2.7 percent of d.b.h.
[8].  Bark thickness required for 50 percent survival of Virginia pine
subjected to low-intensity fire was calculated by three models.  Using
that estimate, the length of time needed for tree growth to be
sufficient to resist fire damage was calculated as 13 years for
open-grown stands and 23 to 28 years for closed-canopy stands [24].
Virginia pine had the slowest decay rate for standing dead trees of 10
commonly associated species [23].


SPECIES: Pinus virginiana
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