Thursday, November 18, 2010

What You DIDN’T Know About the North Carolina State Tree

So you thought you knew your state trivia, huh? The longleaf pine has been a lasting testament to the strength, endurance, and rich history of North Carolina- standing tall over the state like proud monuments to lasting peace. Stands of these majestic trees cover much of the Southeastern United States paying tribute to the phrase “of the marsh” from which this pine’s scientific name of “pinus palustris” is derived. Besides the beauty and hardiness of this species what do we really know about this type of tree which once sustained our coast’s great navies? You may be surprised after contemplating these three facts that you most likely didn’t know about the history and nature of this special North Carolina tree.

1. The state tree is actually invasive to some parts of NC!

Before mainstream settlement of the Piedmont of North Carolina, the plateau was covered by a diverse forest consisting of various hardwoods including oaks, sycamores, and ashes. These trees were valued for their high value as lumber and were commercially cleared in vast amounts over generations. The longleaf pine had room to expand and have remained ever since. The climate of the region has actually changed because of this phenomenon: the area is now much more dry and arid because of the lack of hardwood forest canopy to create humidity!

2. The longleaf pine used to share the spotlight. 

Another surprising fact about the longleaf is that it was never originally the state tree. It shared the glory with an array of different pine species. In fact, the General Assembly of 1963 honored eight different types of pine equally. The loblolly, pitch, shortleaf, and pond are just a few examples of other indigenous trees that were part of this distinction. Each native species of pine carried it’s own role in turning North Carolina into the home of a very successful building industry and, more recently, a booming Christmas Tree producing state.

3. The longleaf pine now has TWICE the spotlight!

Did you know that the longleaf pine is also the state tree of Alabama? This species once covered over 90 million acres in the Southeastern United States but less than 3 million acres are currently thriving today. Similar to the state tree situation of NC, Alabama’s state legislature originally declared every pine to be equally important in the eyes of history. In 1997 the longleaf was specified, bringing it twice the attention! In my opinion, this species is formidable enough to be shared by countless states as an important icon of America’s industrial strength.

So whether you are a North Carolina or Alabama longleaf pine fan, be sure to give your special trees extra loving maintenance now that you know how truly unique they are. Each and every tree is important to a homeowner but any NC native has extra reason to take a second look at their unique state tree.

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