Canopy Tour: Slash pine one of many native evergreens

Published 12:05 pm Monday, December 25, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Several types of pine trees call Mississippi home but none sound as cool as the Slash pine. Native to the lower coastal plain, Slash Pine can be found in parts of Lincoln County making it part of this week’s Canopy Tour. 

The evergreen tree has persistent needles for two seasons before they are cast. These needles are green with a shiny, short, tiff and straight characteristic. Twigs are often stout with a light orange brown color. The surface of twigs is often rough and ridged by compact arrangement of needles and scales. 

Male pine cones are skinny while female pine cones are wider. Mature cones are often three to seven inches long. Bark of slash pine is a dark reddish brown, furrowed and rough. A mature slash pine can reach heights of 100 feet and the growth rate is 60 feet at 20 years. Life span for slash pine is greater than 100 years. 

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Slash pines are intolerant to shade, low tolerance to flood, fire and drought. Propagation of these trees can be done by seed, bare root or container planting. 

Slash pines are often found in low ground, swamps, hammocks, along streams and often invasive on abandoned fields. Soil PH needs to be between 4.0 to 6.4. 

Seeds from Slash pine cones are an excellent food source for gray squirrels, fox squirrels and wild turkeys. Foliage on slash pines provide protective cover for wildlife species during inclement weather. 

A major source of naval stores of turpentine and rosin, it was used for a variety of other purposes too. These include the making of poles, railroad ties, pillings and planted to stabilize the soil on eroding slopes and strip mine spoil banks. Rapid early growth is an advantage for slash pine. 

These trees are adaptable to a variety of site and topographic conditions but grow best on pond margins and in drainage where soil moisture is ample but not excessive.