Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Pinus elliottii
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Carey, Jennifer H. 1992. Pinus elliottii. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
Pinus densa (Little & Dorman) Gaussen
Pinus caribaea Morelet (misapplied)
Pinus heterophylla (Ell.) Sudworth
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
yellow slash pine
Florida slash pine
South Florida slash pine
Dade County slash pine
Dade County pine
The scientific name of slash pine is Pinus elliottii Engelm.
There are two geographic varieties [23,24]:
Pinus elliottii var. elliottii, slash pine (typical variety)
Pinus elliottii var. densa Little & Dorman, Florida slash pine
There is a transitional zone where morphological traits of the two
varieties show clinal variation. Both varieties will be discussed in
this report with emphasis on the typical slash pine variety, P. elliottii
Slash pine occasionally hybridizes with loblolly pine (P. taeda),
late flowering sand pine (P. clausa), and early flowering longleaf pine
(P. palustris) [23,24].
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Pinus elliottii
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
The native range of the typical slash pine variety includes the Coastal
Plain from southern South Carolina to central Florida and west to
eastern Louisiana. Slash pine has been planted as far north as Kentucky
and Virginia , and as far west as eastern Texas, where it now
reproduces naturally . South Florida slash pine occurs in central
and southern Florida and in the lower Florida Keys [2,24].
|Overall disritbution of slash pine (above), and distributions of typical variety of slash pine (lower left) slash pine and Florida slash pine (lower right). Maps courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database.
National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC [2018, June 12] .
FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
AL AR FL GA KY LA MS NC OK SC
TN TX VA
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest
K116 Subtropical pine forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
70 Longleaf pine
74 Cabbage palmetto
81 Loblolly pine
82 Loblolly pine - hardwood
83 Longleaf pine - slash pine
84 Slash pine
85 Slash pine - hardwood
97 Atlantic white cedar
98 Pond pine
100 Pond cypress
103 Water tupelo - swamp tupelo
104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay
111 South Florida slash pine
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
The published classifications listing slash pine as dominant in
community types (cts) are presented below:
Area Classification Authority
SC general veg. cts Nelson 1986
se US: Gulf Coast general forest cts Pessin 1933
se US general forest cts Waggoner 1975
se US general veg. cts Christensen 1988
nc FL general forest cts Monk 1968
SPECIES: Pinus elliottii
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE :
Slash pine is an important timber species in the southeastern United
States. Its strong, heavy wood is excellent for construction purposes.
Because of its high resin content, the wood is also used for railroad
ties, poles, and piling [7,24,26,27].
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
Slash pine seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals. Cattle and deer
occasionally browse seedlings . In the St. Vincent National
Wildlife Refuge of northwestern Florida, slash pine made up 0.7 percent
of Indian sambar deer rumens and 0.6 percent of white-tailed deer rumens
The dense foliage of slash pine provides cover and shelter for wildlife
. The endangered red-cockaded woodpecker is known to nest in slash
pine, although it is not this cavity dweller's preferred species .
Large slash pine provide nest sites for bald eagles .
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
COVER VALUE :
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
Because of slash pine's rapid growth, it is used to stabilize soil and
rehabilitate mine spoils. It grows well on coal mine spoils in
northern Alabama [24,40].
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
Slash pine is the preferred naval stores species. Its resin is used for
gum turpentine and rosin production [24,41].
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Slash pine forest management requires integration of three primary uses:
turpentine, wood, and forage production. Intense production and
management for one use will likely reduce production for another use.
For instance, turpentining reduces slash pine growth by 25 percent while
the tree is worked, a closed canopy reduces understory forage
production, and fire used to improve forage production and quality may
damage young trees .
Slash pine is best regenerated using even-aged management. Both the
seed tree and shelterwood silviculture systems are effective. For
adequate regeneration, leave 6 to 10 seed trees per acre and 25 to 40
shelterwood trees per acre. Overstory trees should be removed 1 to 3
years after seedlings are established. Seedbed preparation increases
seedling establishment. Pine growth is enhanced by site preparation and
removal of hardwood and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) understory
Cattle grazing is extensive on pine flatwoods in the Southeast. Pearson
 reported that light to moderate grazing did not affect
establishment, survival, or growth of seeded or planted slash pine up to
5 years old. Heavy grazing decreased survival, but most losses occurred
in the first year. It is recommended that cattle be withheld from
grazing young stands until after the first growing season .
Disease: The two most serious diseases of slash pine are fusiform rust
(Cronartium quercuum f. sp. fusiforme) and annosus root rot
(Heterobasidion annosum) [22,24]. Fusiform rust is a stem disease that
affects seedlings and saplings. The younger the pine is when it becomes
infected, the more likely it is to die . Removing trees with severe
stem galls minimizes timber losses and improves stand quality .
Annosus root rot infects thinned stands. The fungus colonizes on
freshly cut stumps and spreads by root contact. Thick litter is
associated with sporophore development . Annosus root rot is most
damaging to slash pine if there is good surface drainage. Slash pine
grown on shallow soils with a heavy subsoil clay layer are not
susceptible to annosus root rot .
Lophodermella cerina, a needle-blight-causing fungus, mainly affects
slash pine close to metropolitan areas. Air pollution is thought to
worsen this disease . Pitch canker, caused by Fusarium moniliforme
var. subglutinans, is common in plantations and can girdle a pine .
Insects: Insects that attack slash pine include pales weevil (Hylobius
pales), black turpentine beetle (Dendroctonus terebrans), engraver
beetles (Ips spp.), and defoliators such as pine web worm (Tetralopha
robustella), blackheaded pine sawfly (Neodiprion excitans), redheaded
pine sawfly (N. lecontei), and Texas leafcutting ant (Atta texana) .
Florida slash pine is less susceptible to insects and disease than
the typical variety of slash pine. Grass-stage seedlings of South
Florida slash pine are attacked by brown-spot needle blight (Scirrhia
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Pinus elliottii
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Slash pine is a native evergreen conifer with thick platy bark and
relatively long needles. It grows rapidly and lives approximately 200
years. Slash pine has an extensive lateral root system and a moderate
taproot . The typical slash pine variety has a straight bole and a
narrow ovoid crown. Mature trees of this variety vary in height from 60
to 100 feet (18-30.5 m) and average 24 inches (61 cm) in d.b.h. .
The two varieties differ considerably in morphology. South Florida
slash pine has longer needles, smaller cones, denser wood, and a thicker
and longer taproot . The trunk forks into large spreading branches
which form a broad, rounded crown [13,46]. Mature trees attain only 56
feet (17 m) in height. The relatively short stature of South Florida
slash pine probably evolved to avoid tropical storm damage .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Seed production and dissemination: Slash pine is monoecious. Trees
usually begin producing cones between 10 and 15 years of age. Good cone
crops occur every 3 years for the typical variety and every 4 years for
the South Florida variety. Ninety percent of the light, winged seeds
fall within 150 feet (46 m) of the source tree .
Germination and seedling development: Germination is epigeal and occurs
within 2 weeks of seedfall. Slash pine seeds have good viability.
Exposed mineral soil enhances germination .
Open-grown seedlings of the typical slash pine variety grow 16 inches
(41 cm) in the first year. Root development is best in clayey soil and
worst in sandy soil .
Seedlings of the South Florida variety have a 2- to 6-year grass stage
similar to that of longleaf pine. During the grass stage, seedlings
develop an extensive root system and a thick root collar. Once
initiated, height growth is rapid . Florida slash pine
seedlings are more drought and flood tolerant than those of the typical
Vegetative reproduction: Florida slash pine grass-stage seedlings
can sprout from the root collar if top-killed .
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Slash pine grows in a warm, humid climate and up to about 500 feet (150
m) in elevation. Slash pine grows best on mesic flatwood sites and on
pond or stream margins where soil moisture is ample but not excessive,
and drainage is poor . Established stands grow well on flooded
sites, but flooding restricts seedling establishment . Soils
include Spodosols, Ultisols, and Entisols. Slash pine's native range
was probably more restricted by frequent fire than by soil types or soil
moisture. With fire suppression, slash pine has spread to drier sites
The Florida slash pine variety grows from near sea level to about
70 feet (20 m) in elevation . This variety grows in a wide range of
conditions, from wet sites in the northern part of its range to
well-drained sandy soils and rocky limestone outcrops in the South
Tree associates of slash pine include live oak (Quercus virginiana),
water oak (Q. nigra), post oak (Q. stellata), blackjack oak (Q.
marilandica), myrtle oak (Q. myrtifolia), bluejack oak (Q. incana),
turkey oak (Q. laevis), southern red cedar (Juniperus silicicola), pond
cypress (Taxodium ascendens), cabbage palmetto (Sabal palmetto), red
maple (Acer rubrum), and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) .
Understory species on drier sites include pineland threeawn (Aristida
stricta), bluestem (Andropogon spp.), saw-palmetto (Serenoa repens),
gallberry (Ilex glabra), fetterbush (Lyonia lucida), and pitcher plant
(Sarracenia spp.). On moist to wet sites, understory species include
southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera), buckwheat-tree (Cliftonia
monophylla), yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), and dahoon (I. cassine).
Undergrowth on very wet sites is primarily Sphagnum spp. .
More than fifteen species of herbs are endemic to the Miami rock ridge
pinelands where Florida slash pine dominates .
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Slash pine is relatively intolerant of competition and intolerant of
shade . It will reproduce in small openings and invade open
longleaf pine stands, but growth is reduced by competition and partial
shade . Slash pine invades fallow agricultural fields and disturbed
areas. It will invade longleaf pine stands where fire has been absent
for at least 5 to 6 years. In the absence of fire, slash pine flatwoods
are replaced by southern mixed hardwood forests on drier sites and by
bayheads on wetter sites .
Florida slash pine may be an edaphic or fire climax on flatwood
sites . In the absence of fire, this variety is also replaced by
hardwoods. In pine rocklands, hardwood succession is rapid, but in pine
flatwoods, vegetative changes occur more slowly .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Male strobili begin to develop in June, grow for several weeks, and then
go dormant until midwinter. Pollen is shed from late January to
February. Female strobili begin to develop in late August and grow
until they are fully developed. Cones mature in September,
approximately 20 months after pollinization. Seed fall is in October
SPECIES: Pinus elliottii
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Young slash pine is susceptible to fire, but mature trees are fire
resistant . Thick bark and high, open crowns allow individuals to
survive fire. Slash pine, however, is less fire resistant than longleaf
or sand pine . Seedlings grow fast, and in 10 to 12 years slash
pine is resistant to fire that does not crown .
Estimates of the natural fire frequency of slash pine flatwoods range
from 3 to 15 fires per century [8,21]. A fire interval of at least 5 to
6 years allows young trees to develop some fire resistance. Fires are
ignited by lightning in late spring and summer [10,41]. Ample soil
moisture and seasonally wet depressions and drainages of slash pine
habitat impede fire entry. Occasional fire serves to reduce hardwood
competition and expose mineral soil which enhances germination [21,24].
The bark structure of slash pine is important to its fire resistance.
Outer bark layers overlap and protect grooves where the bark is thinner
. The platy bark flakes off to dissipate heat .
The South Florida variety is more fire resistant than the typical
variety because seedlings and saplings have thicker bark [1,2,24,42].
The estimated natural fire frequency of Florida slash pine
communities is 25 fires per century . Crown fires are rare because
frequent fires reduce fuel build-up, trees self-prune well, and stands
are open . In addition to adaptations of the typical slash pine
variety, the South Florida variety is fire resistant in the seedling
grass stage. A dense tuft of needles protects the terminal bud. If
top-killed by fire, the grass-stage seedling may sprout from the root
collar . See the longleaf pine review for further information on
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
SPECIES: Pinus elliottii
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
One- and two-year-old slash pine are killed by low-severity fire. After
3 to 4 years, seedlings survive low-severity fire but not
moderate-severity fire. Ten- to fifteen-foot-tall (3.0-4.6 m) saplings
survive moderate-severity fires. Once slash pine is 10 to 12 years old,
it survives fire that does not crown [10,24,41,46].
Slash pine is tolerant of crown scorch. Scorched foliage is replaced by
new shoots. Slash pine as young as 5 years old may recover from 100
percent crown scorch [6,41]. Slash pine taller than 5 feet (1.5 m)
seldom die if less than 70 percent of the crown is scorched . In
New South Wales, Australia, a fall wildfire burned a slash pine
plantation averaging 20 feet (6.1 m) in height. The fire crowned in
most areas. Trees with no green needles, few or no brown needles, and a
drooping apical branch had 31 percent survival, trees with mostly brown
needles and few or no green needles present had 93.8 percent survival,
and trees with clearly visible green needles at the top had 96.9 percent
Slash pine needles were killed instantly when immersed in water at 147
degrees Fahrenheit (64 deg C) but survived 9.5 minutes at 126 degrees
Fahrenheit (52 deg C) .
If slash pine bark is thicker than 0.6 inch (1.5 cm), mortality due to
cambium damage is unlikely from a low-severity fire. In one study,
0.08-inch (0.2 cm) thick bark protected the cambium from externally
applied heat at a temperature of 572 degrees Fahrenheit (300 deg C) for
1 minute. Bark which was 0.47 inch (1.2 cm) thick protected the cambium
from 1110 degrees Fahrenheit (600 deg C) for 2 minutes .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
Seedlings of the South Florida variety are more fire resistant than the
typical slash pine variety but less resistant than longleaf pine
seedlings . In Florida, 2-year-old seedlings of both varieties
averaging 3 feet (0.9 m) in height were burned by wildfire in December.
Twenty-three percent of the South Florida variety burned by headfire and
56 percent burned by backfire survived. Less than one percent of the
typical variety survived either headfires or backfires. One-third of
the Florida slash pine survivors sprouted from dormant buds at or
near the root collar and along the bole. Root collar sprouts died back
after new needle growth appeared below the fire-killed leader .
A cool, prescribed winter fire in a Florida slash pine stand
killed many older pines, but young pines survived. Although there was
no outward sign of fire damage, fire may have killed the feeder roots,
and only young, vigorous pines were able to recover .
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Slash pine's growth response to fire is variable. Slash pine damaged by
fire may suffer a short-term reduction in growth, although fires that
result in light or no scorch may actually enhance growth . In the
Georgia Coastal Plain, a 9-year-old stand averaging 24.5 feet (7.5 m) in
height and 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) in d.b.h. was prescribed burned in
February. In the first postfire growing season, slash pine with 0 to 15
percent crown scorch outgrew the control, pine with 15 to 40 percent
crown scorch was not significantly different in growth from the control,
and pine with more than 40 percent scorch showed reduced growth. Growth
returned to normal in the second postfire growing season .
Severely scorched, 25-year-old slash pine in Georgia, averaging 8 inches
(20 cm) in d.b.h., lost almost a full year's growth in two growing
seasons. Growth of trees with less than 10 percent crown scorch was
only 85 percent of unburned trees after 2 years . In Louisiana,
annual and biennial prescribed backfires initiated in a 4-year-old stand
averaging 7.8 feet (2.4 m) in height reduced growth, but trienniel fires
did not. Whether the fires were in May or March had no effect on growth
Height growth is slightly more sensitive to needle scorch than diameter
growth. McCulley  reported that height growth loss occurred in
trees with no crown scorch if they were smaller than 7 inches (18 cm) in
d.b.h., but diameter growth loss only occurred in trees with greater
than 30 percent crown scorch.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
If a poor seed crop is expected, prescribed burning should be done prior
to seedfall to enhance germination. Prescribed burning before stand
establishment also reduces fire hazard in young stands. Prescribed
burning at 3 to 5 year intervals throughout the stand rotation will
facilitate future seedbed preparation, and control but not eradicate
hardwoods. Hardwoods benefit wildlife and complete eradication is not
necessary. At the end of the rotation, successive summer fires can be
used for site preparation . In the southern Florida pine rocklands,
fire every 3 to 7 years has effectively controlled hardwoods .
Young slash pine stands should not be burned for the first 5 years or
until the stand is 12 to 15 feet (3.7-4.6 m) tall [22,26,46]. Cattle
can be used to reduce fuel buildup until young pine stands are resistant
to light fire [12,46].
Prescribed winter and spring burning is usually done in pine flatwoods
every 2 to 3 years to increase range grasses for cattle .
In the Coastal Plain, prescribed burning before and after thinning
reduced infection by root rot caused by Heterobasidion annosum. The
fire destroyed the litter that is associated with sporophore development
of the fungus. A fungal competitor, Trichloderma spp., increased in the
soil after burning and may have contributed to the reduced infection
SPECIES: Pinus elliottii
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