Longleaf pine once grew from southeastern Virginia to Florida and west to Texas. It is estimated to have occupied 90 million acres and to have been dominant on about 60 million acres. Now we are down to about 3 million acres. Early European settlers described the stands as varying from dense stands with massive stems to open savannas with grasslands, flowers and wildlife.
Longleaf grows up to 100 feet in height and can live for over 300 years. It is tolerant of fire, and resistant to southern pine beetles, fusiform rust and many other tree diseases. The roots grow deep, enabling it to withstand windstorms, making it more wind firm than other pines. The leaves grow up to 18 inches in length and are prized as mulch around landscape trees.
Longleaf produces excellent lumber, and resawn old-growth longleaf is sought after by contractors and craftsmen. The wood is strong and rot resistant and was originally used for mast and ship timbers, and the resin was valued in the wooden ship era. Longleaf stands often have expected pole yields of 50-75 percent of the stand, while loblolly and slash pines typically yield less than 15 percent.