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Slash pine

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Slash pine
Pinus elliottii densa.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Pinus elliottii

Slash pine.JPG

The slash pine is native to southern US. It grows fast, but only lives to about 200 years old. They usually grow in humid climates and moist soils. It gets its name from the area it grows in, swampy areas with lots of underbrush.


It can be distinguished from the related Loblolly Pine by the somewhat longer, glossier needles, and larger red-brown cones, and from Longleaf Pine by the shorter, slenderer needles and smaller cones with less broad scales.

Slash pines' height can range anywhere from 60-100 feet. Their trunks are 2-3 feet in diameter. The leaves are slender and thin (like needles), and are about 7-9 inches long and in groups of three. Cones on this tree are a glossy brownish color and approx. 2-6 inches in length, they also have a thick bristle on each of the scales.[1] It's bark tends to be orange-brown and scaley.[2]

There are two different types of slash pine P. elliottii var. elliott and P. elliotti var. densa. P. elliottii var. elliott is known as the typical slash pine, its leaves bunch into groups of two and three, and it cones are larger than the cones on the P. elliotti var. densa. The P. elliotti var. densa is more formally known as the South Florida Slash Pine. It has smaller cones about 2-4 inches long, and its leaves almost always bundle into groups of two.[3]


Slash pines have both male and female reproductive organs. Sometimes they crossbreed with other pines like loblolly pines, sand pines, and longleaf pines. At the age of 10-15 years they start providing cones. Most crops of slash pine are good every three years, however there are some in south Florida that yield decent crops every 4 years. 90% of the seeds with wings fall approximately 150 feet away from the parent tree.

The male strobili start developing in June, they grow for a few weeks, but then undergo a dormant state until midwinter. The trees spread their pollen from January-February. The female strobili start to develop in late August and, unlike the male strobili, they completely develop. The cones mature in September (20 months after initial pollination) and the seeds start to fall in October. Germination happens within two weeks after the seedfall. The seedlings resemble grass during their first year. Some seedlings in southern Florida take up to 6 years in the grass stage. While in this grass stage they develop an intricate root systems. In the first year some seedlings can grow 16 inches.[4]


typical pine flatgrounds where these trees grow in Florida

Because slash pines have a very fast growth rate, they have become a valuable pine for various reforestation projects in the south. These pines were used as major resources for naval industries, in the past, however the naval industries have been slowly disappearing from Florida. Slash pines have also been produced into turpentine and crude rosins. They can be found in wet flatwoods, swampy places, and the edges of shallow ponds, they also have been known to grow in sandy soils that have a very low amount of nutrients. The gray fox, wild turkey and squirrels rely a lot upon the seeds that these trees bear. A lot of insects damage these trees leaving scars that make them more susceptible to death by fire.[5]

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