Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Pinus echinata
SPECIES: Pinus echinata
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Carey, Jennifer H. 1992. Pinus echinata. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
shortleaf yellow pine
southern yellow pine
Arkansas soft pine
old field pine
The currently accepted scientific name of shortleaf pine is Pinus
echinata Mill. . There are no recognized varieties or subspecies.
Shortleaf pine hybridizes with loblolly pine (P. taeda), pitch pine (P.
rigida), pond pine (P. serotina), and spruce pine (P. glabra) [24,25].
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Pinus echinata
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Shortleaf pine has the widest geographic range of any pine in the
southeastern United States . It grows in the Atlantic Coast States
from southeastern New York to northern Florida; throughout the Gulf
States; and inland to western Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern
Illinois, southern Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas
[24,25]. Arkansas contains more shortleaf pine than any other state
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
AL AR DE FL GA HI IL KY LA MD
MS MO NJ NY NC OH OK PA SC TN
TX VA WV
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K110 Northeastern oak - pine forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
21 Eastern white pine
40 Post oak - blackjack oak
43 Bear oak
44 Chestnut oak
45 Pitch pine
46 Eastern redcedar
51 White pine - chestnut oak
52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak
70 Longleaf pine
75 Shortleaf pine
76 Shortleaf pine - oak
78 Virginia pine - oak
79 Virginia pine
80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
81 Loblolly pine
82 Loblolly pine - hardwood
110 Black oak
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Shortleaf pine is dominant in several seral communities. The
published classifications listing shortleaf pine as a dominant species
in community types (cts) are presented below:
Area Classification Authority
se US gen. forest cts Waggoner 1975
se US gen. forest cts Sheffield and
SPECIES: Pinus echinata
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE :
Shortleaf pine, an important commercial species, ranks second to
loblolly pine in total softwood volume harvested in the southeastern
United States [6,37]. After 36 years, an even-aged stand yields 5,000
to 6,000 total merchantable cubic feet per acre (350-415 cubic m/ha)
. The strong wood is used for lumber, plywood, structural material,
and pulpwood .
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
Shortleaf pine seeds are an important food source for birds and small
mammals . Deer browse on seedlings. Stands of seedlings and
saplings provide cover for bobwhite quail and wild turkey [24,42].
Old-growth shortleaf pine provides habitat for cavity dwellers .
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
COVER VALUE :
The federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker lives in old-growth
shortleaf pine with decayed heartwood .
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
Because of its adaptability, shortleaf pine has potential for
rehabilitating eroded areas and mine sites . For best success, mine
sites should have a pH between 4.5 and 6.5 and be below 2,500 feet (762
m). Shortleaf pine does best on mine sites when planted as a pure stand
or mixed with other pines. It also grows well with European alder
(Alnus glutinosa) .
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
Shortleaf pine is used as an ornamental .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Shortleaf pine is usually managed in even-aged stands with clearcutting
followed by artificial regeneration. Natural regeneration can be used,
but seedbed preparation is recommended. Seed tree silviculture requires
11 square feet basal area per acre (2.5 m sq/ha) of shortleaf pine seed
trees. A shelterwood system requires 20 to 30 square feet of basal area
per acre (4.6-6.9 m sq/ha) of shortleaf pine . Seedbed preparation
should be done early to benefit from the high viability of early
released seeds .
Uneven-aged management requires frequent harvest of single trees and
seedling establishment once every 10 years [1,24]. Shortleaf pine
seedlings will establish if overstory is reduced to 45 to 60 square feet
basal area per acre (10.3-13.8 m sq/ha) .
Control of competing understory is generally considered necessary for
maintenance of shortleaf pine stands [17,37]. Hardwoods suppress
shade-intolerant seedlings and saplings, and a thick litter discourages
seedling establishment. However, hardwoods also prevent soil moisture
loss and discourage competing herbaceous vegetation. Cain  suggests
that the coexistence of hardwoods with shortleaf pine may be an
antagonistic symbiosis. Yocum and Lawson  found that intensive
hardwood control on southern exposures actually decreased the rate of
establishment of shortleaf pine seedlings.
Control of dense understory can increase the growth rate of shortleaf
pine [17,29]. Lloyd and others  reported a 17 percent increase in
2-year shortleaf pine diameter growth after a spring felling of
competing hardwoods and a 22 percent increase in diameter growth after a
winter felling followed by an herbicide treatment. Cain  reported
that control of herbaceous vegetation resulted in increases in pine
growth, while control of hardwoods had little effect. After 5 years,
pines on herbaceous control plots averaged more than 4 feet taller than
pines on untreated plots or woody control plots. However, even on the
untreated plots, pines exceeded the herbaceous and woody competitors by
6 feet. Cain  concluded that control of hardwood competition is not
necessary if pines, hardwoods, and herbaceous species establish on a
site at the same time. The relatively fast-growing shortleaf pine
seedlings dominate over hardwoods in 5 to 7 years .
Loblolly pine outperforms shortleaf pine in loblolly's natural range
because it grows faster as a juvenile. If planted together, however,
shortleaf pine can survive and attain a codominant crown position in
mature even-aged stands .
Littleleaf disease, the most serious disease afflicting shortleaf pine,
affects 30 to 50 year-old trees and causes needles to turn yellow and
fall off. Littleleaf disease is a recent phenomenon and occurs only
where shortleaf pine has colonized severely eroded agricultural land.
The disease is caused by a combination of factors: low soil nutrients,
poor internal drainage, and the presence of Phytophthora cinnamomi, a
soil fungus. The poor drainage allows the fungus, which attacks the
feeder roots, to sporulate abundantly. Hardwoods should not be
controlled where littleleaf disease is present because the soil needs to
build up. Afflicted trees respond positively to large doses of nitrogen
[33,42]. Mueller-Dombois and others  claim it is not a disease, but
a dieback or decline phenomenon.
Other common diseases are root rot and red heart rot. Seedlings are
subject to damping off .
Nantucket pine tip moth (Rhyacionia frustrana) larvae bore into the
shortleaf pine buds of young trees and kill the tips. Southern pine
beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) attacks the bark of shortleaf pine and
individuals usually die in less than 1 year [24,42]. Redheaded pine
sawfly (Neodiprion lecontei), loblolly pine sawfly (N. taedae linearis),
pine engraver beetle (Ips spp.), and black turpentine beetle
(Dendroctonus terebrans) attack and damage shortleaf pine.
The decline of old growth shortleaf pines has resulted in a decline in
population of the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Death
of old growth shortleaf pine is primarily from southern pine beetle. In
order to minimize cavity tree mortality, site disturbances should be
limited when southern pine beetle populations are elevated .
Acid rain is suspected of causing an abnormal decrease in growth of
shortleaf pine in the past 25 years . Ozone concentrations two and
a half times the ambient ozone concentration cause decreased growth in
shortleaf pine .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Pinus echinata
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Shortleaf pine is a medium-sized, native, evergreen conifer with
relatively short needles and thin, flaky, black bark that becomes
reddish brown with age . Shortleaf pine attains a height of 100
feet (30 m) and a d.b.h. of 24 to 36 inches (61-91 cm). Individuals
generally grow straight and have conical crowns. Shortleaf pine is
capable of growing a deep taproot and is resistant to windthrow .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Seed production and dissemination: Shortleaf pine is monoecious. It
begins producing seeds at 20 years of age. The cone yields 25 to 38
seeds. A good cone crop, 80,000 seeds per acre (200,000/ha), occurs
every 3 to 10 years in the North and every 3 to 6 years in the South.
Seeds are equipped with wings and are dispersed as far as 200 to 300
feet (61-91 m), although most fall close to the source tree [1,24].
Seedling development: Seeds on the ground are naturally stratified
during the winter and epigeal germination takes place in the early
spring . The viability of seeds decreases as the period of seed
fall progresses . Exposed mineral soil aids seedling establishment
[20,24]. The seedling stem grows slowly the first 2 years while the
root system develops. One to three-year-old open-grown seedlings and 3
to 9-year-old shade-grown seedlings fall over and remain semiprostrate
for 1 to 2 years before resuming erect positions. A permanent crook
develops at the cotyledon. The crook, at ground level, is later
obscured by the thickening stem after a tree reaches 8 to 10 feet
(2.4-3.0 m) in height [28,32,42]. If suppressed by competition,
seedlings will have poorly developed crooks .
Vegetative reproduction: If the crown is damaged or killed, shortleaf
pine up to 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in d.b.h. sprouts vigorously from
dormant axillary buds at the root crown and dormant buds at nodes in the
Rooting habits: Shortleaf pine grows a large, massive taproot in deep
soil with adequate drainage, but often does not in shallow soil where
the subsoil is hard or clayey [18,24,42]. Roots have a low tolerance
for poor soil aeration and high water table conditions [24,32]. Lateral
roots grow near the surface with 56 to 64 percent of the roots in the
top 6 inches (15 cm) of soil and 17 to 25 percent from 6 to 12 inches
(15-30 cm) . Seedlings grown in place are more likely to have a
downward-oriented root system than planted seedlings .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Shortleaf pine is common in the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains, the
upper and lower Piedmont, and on floodplains. It ranges in elevation
from 10 to 3,000 feet (3-910 m), and usually grows on south- or
west-facing slopes. Shortleaf pine commonly grows on old agricultural
Shortleaf pine has great adaptability, but grows best on moist,
well-drained, deep, sandy or silty loam. Soils are typically Ultisols.
Shortleaf pine does not grow well in soils with high pH, high calcium
content, excessive internal drainage, or high organic content .
While shortleaf pine generally occurs with loblolly pine, shortleaf pine
prevails on the drier, coarser, less acidic, and infertile sites [5,45].
Common overstory associates include scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea),
southern red oak (Q. falcata), water oak (Q. nigra), willow oak (Q.
Phellos), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), sweetgum (Liquidambar
styraciflua), Table Mountain pine (Pinus pungens), mockernut and pignut
hickories (Carya tomentosa and C. glabra), winged elm (Ulmus alata),
sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), red maple (Acer rubrum), American beech
(Fagus grandifolia), and Carolina ash (Fraxinus caroliniana) [24,40].
(Also see SAF cover types).
Common understory woody species include mountain laurel (Kalmia
latifolia), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), redbud (Cercis
canadensis), and persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). Because of shortleaf
pine's wide distribution, associated understory shrubs, vines, and
herbaceous species are numerous .
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Shortleaf pine is shade intolerant and is suppressed by hardwood
competition. It commonly grows in even-aged stands . Shortleaf
pine, a pioneer species, invades old agricultural fields. Many
shortleaf pine stands became established after the Civil War when fields
were abandoned . Shortleaf pine invasion of oldfields begins within
5 years of abandonment, and a closed-canopy stand is formed after 10 to
15 years. A 40-year-old shortleaf pine stand may have a considerable
hardwood understory. In the absence of fire, hardwoods attain dominance
[2,3,5,14,42]. After 150 to 200 years, only a few relict pines may
In the New Jersey Pine Barrens, where fire frequency is less than 10
years, pitch pine and scrub oaks (Quercus spp.) supplant shortleaf pine
. In Alabama, shortleaf pine will succeed longleaf pine (Pinus
palustris) in the absence of fire .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Shortleaf pine flowers in late March in the South and in late April in
the North. Cones mature in the late summer or early fall of the second
growing season [21,24]. Seed dispersal begins in late October or early
November, and generally coincides with a cold front bringing low
temperatures, low humidity, and high winds . Seventy percent of the
seeds fall in 1 month and 90 percent within 2 months .
SPECIES: Pinus echinata
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Shortleaf pine is classified as fire-resistant . It is more tolerant
than loblolly pine  and less tolerant than pitch pine . It has
a low susceptibility to crown fire because of its moderately high and
open crown and moderately open stand structure. It is able to endure
some fire defoliation  but is not able to survive frequent or severe
fires . Shortleaf pine has medium-thick bark which protects the
tree and the dormant buds within the bole and at the base. Shortleaf
pines up to about 30 years of age will sprout from dormant basal buds if
the crown is top-killed [28,31]. Shortleaf pine regenerates well after
fire since exposed mineral soil and lack of competition facilitate
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
crown-stored residual colonizer; short-viability seed in on-site cones
off-site colonizer; seed carried by wind; postfire years one and two
survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex
SPECIES: Pinus echinata
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Mature shortleaf pine is killed by high-severity crown fires, but
withstands low- to moderate-severity surface fires [9,23]. Shortleaf
pine is most susceptible to fire in the first 6 to 10 years after
establishment . Seedlings up to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall are usually
top-killed, and saplings often suffer bark char, needle scorch, or
needle consumption . Seeds in the duff will be killed by fire .
Shortleaf pine mortality from fire is dependent on the degree of crown
scorch, basal damage, and season of fire. After a summer fire, there
was 60 percent mortality of shortleaf pines of any size that had
complete crown scorch combined with extensive basal damage. After a
winter fire, less than 50 percent died from similar injuries. If basal
damage was not extensive but crown scorch complete, there was 30 percent
mortality from the summer fire . Trees greater than 5 feet (1.5 m)
tall seldom die if less than 70 percent of the crown is scorched .
Because of thick bark, basal injury is not common. In areas with
frequent fire, only 11 percent of shortleaf pine showed basal injury
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Sprouting: Seedlings and saplings top-killed by fire will sprout from
dormant buds at the root collar. Sprouting is not as consistent in
trees larger than 8 feet (2.4 m) tall . There are usually 4 to 8
new sprouts per tree, but as many as 70 sprouts where fires are frequent
. The sprouts grow 1 to 2 feet (30-61 cm) in the first year.
Multiple sprouts act as a firebreak for the central leader. When the
leaders are 3 to 4 feet (1-1.2 m) tall they can survive defoliation by
fire as long as the terminal leaders are not charred. Many of the
sprouts die back when the leader is no longer affected by fire .
A well-developed basal stem crook protects dormant buds in seedlings.
In a study in which 100 shade-grown 1-year-old shortleaf pine seedlings
were subject to a prescribed fire, 33 percent with no basal crook
sprouted, 39 percent with a slight basal crook sprouted, 81 percent with
a well-developed basal crook sprouted, and 93 percent with a very
well-developed basal crook sprouted . Garren  found 56 percent
of shortleaf seedlings survive by sprouting.
Growth: Crown scorch usually results in growth losses in young trees.
Diameter growth rate of shortleaf pine decreased as much as 75 percent
after one fire . In older trees, there is no growth loss if there
is little or no needle scorch . Trees 4 to 10 inches (10-25 cm)
d.b.h. continue to grow at normal rates after severe groundfire, even
if the crowns are scorched . Yocum  found light to moderate
summer fires had no effect on the growth of 60-year-old shortleaf pines
in Arkansas. If trees are not damaged and hardwood and herbaceous
competition is eliminated, pine growth will inrcease.
Reproduction: Seeds released from on- and off-site sources will
germinate in the soil exposed by fire.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Fire is important to shortleaf pine management. Fire effectively
prepares the necessary seedbed for shortleaf pine regeneration and can
be used to control competing hardwoods . Fire may not be
beneficial, however, in areas where competing hardwoods sprout
vigorously after fire. A controlled fire on the Cumberland Plateau in
Kentucky resulted in a greater number of hardwood stems and made
regeneration of shortleaf pine almost impossible . Ferguson 
concluded that an ideal fire in which hardwoods are killed and pines are
not killed may be unattainable.
In some areas, fire has been effective in controlling hardwoods. In the
Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, 3 consecutive years of summer fires
reduced the number of 5.5 inch (14 cm) d.b.h. and smaller hardwood stems
. In upland New Jersey and in the Piedmont, light fires at 5-year
intervals are recommended as soon as the young pines are able to
withstand fire [9,27]. In the Piedmont, however, understory vegetation
and litter are often too moist to carry fire . In eastern Texas, a
headfire during the growing season with a followup fire to control the
hardwood sprouts resulted in at least temporary control of hardwood
stems less than 1.5 inches (4 cm) d.b.h. and negligible mortality of
greater than 4 inch (10 cm) d.b.h. shortleaf pines .
If fire occurs 5 years after establishment, shortleaf pine will have an
edge over loblolly pine because of shortleaf pine's ability to sprout.
Loblolly will overtake shortleaf, however, if fire intervals are 10
years or more . Shortleaf pine sprouts that start from seedlings or
saplings have good form and can produce commercial timber . In a
mixed hardwood-pine forest, fire more frequent than every 10 years can
eliminate or decrease shortleaf pine .
Fire-damaged trees are more susceptible to insect infestation .
Southern pine beetle attack on shortleaf pine is aided or induced by
fire . Fire should not be prescribed in shortleaf pine stands that
are habitat for the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker if
southern pine beetles are present. A stand infected with littleleaf
disease should not be burned because fire will destroy the organic
material necessary for soil build-up .
SPECIES: Pinus echinata
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