Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) coniferous tree, is a medium to large sized tree, and common to the southern and eastern eastern states. The Shortleaf pine is one of the southern United States so-called "yellow" pines. Other common names are Southern Yellow pine or Shortstraw pine. Texas, Kansas, Florida, and New York are the confining four borders of the Shortleaf pine's habitat. Pinus meaning pine, and the Latin echinata means spiny or prickly, referring to the cones. Shortleaf pines have the smallest needles of the major southern yellow pines, hence the name Shortleaf. Shortleaf pine grows best in deep, well-drained soils, having fine sandy loam or silty loam textures.
AnatomyShortleaf pine trees normally have a straight trunk that usually reaches 80 to 100 ft. at maturity, with diameters of 3 feet. Exceptionally large trees can grow to 130
Shortleaf pine is monoecious. Male and female strobili originate in late March late April depending on it's geographic location. The male strobili are present in spirals in clusters. Male strobili are green or yellow to reddish purple before maturing and then become a brown color at the period of pollen shed.
Soon after the male strobili appear female strobili emerge from the winter bud and are green or red to purple. After pollination of the female strobili the scales close and the seed development process starts. Cones start to develop quickly after fertilization early spring or summer of the second growing season. They then are mature by late summer to early fall and are green to light or dull brown when ripened.
Shortleaf pine usually do not carry seeds until about 20 years of age, but male and female flowers are reported to be on 5-year-old trees. Seedfall normally starts in late October or early November, when the cones reach a specific gravity. When the cones begin drying and bracts open, they allow the winged seeds to fall out. Some seeds will continue to fall into April, and the cones stay on the tree for a while after they are empty. Shortleaf pine cones yield 25 to 38 seeds each.
Seeds that lie on the ground during the winter and germination takes place in early spring. Rarely, seeds do not germinate until the second year. Only a few seeds actually germinate and produce seedlings because of wildlife consumption of seeds.
Shortleaf pine seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals. It provides habitat and food for bobwhite quail, mourning dove, meadowlark, eastern cottontail rabbit, and a selection of songbirds. White-tailed deer browse on younger Shortleaf pines, and mature trees provide red-cockaded woodpeckers cavity trees.