Slash Pine Tree, A Southern Yellow Pine

Pinus Elliottii, A Common Tree To Plant in the South

Slash Pine Flatwoods. Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve/NOAA

The slash pine tree (Pinus elliottii) is one of four southern yellow pines native to southeastern United States. Slash pine is also called southern pine, yellow slash pine, swamp pine, pitch pine, and Cuban pine.

Two varieties are recognized: P. elliottii var. elliottii, the slash pine most frequently encountered, and P. elliottii var. densa, that grows naturally only in the southern half of peninsula Florida and in the Keys.

The Slash Pine Tree Range

Slash pine has the smallest native range of the four major southern United States pines (loblolly, shortleaf, longleaf and slash). Slash pine can grow and is often planted throughout the southern United States. The pine's native range includes the entire state of Florida and in the southern counties of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Slash Pine Needs Moisture:

Slash pine, in it's native habitat, is common along streams and the edges of swamps, bays and hammocks of the Florida Everglades. Slash seedlings can not stand wildfire so ample soil moisture and standing water protects young seedlings from destructive fire.

Improved fire protection in the South has allowed slash pine to spread to drier sites. The resulting increase in acreage was possible because of slash pine's frequent and abundant seed production, rapid early growth, and ability to withstand wildfires after the sapling stage.

Identification of Slash Pine

The evergreen slash pine is a medium to large tree that can often grow beyond 80 feet in height. The slash pine crown is cone-shaped during the first few years of growth but rounds and flattens as the tree ages. The tree trunk is usually straight which makes it a desirable forest product. Two to three needles grow per bundle and are about 7 inches long. The cone is just over 5 inches long.

Damaging Agents that Hurt Slash Pine

The most serious disease of slash pine is fusiform rust. Many trees are killed and others may become too deformed for high value forest products like lumber. Resistance to the disease is inherited, and several programs are underway to breed fusiform resistant strains of slash pine.

Annosus root rot is another serious disease of slash pine in thinned stands. It is most damaging on soils where slash seedlings are transplanted and is not a problem in native flatwoods or shallow soils with heavy clay. Infections begin when spores germinate on fresh stumps and spread to adjacent trees through root contact.