Loblolly pine, known to botanists as Pinus taeda, is a species of pine which is native to the Southeastern region of the United States, extending from Texas through the Southern States and all the way up the coastline as far as New Jersey in its native range. This highly durable and very adaptive tree also grows very successfully outside of its native region, and loblolly pine plantations can be found in several regions of the world as a result.
These pines grow to around 100 feet (30 meters) in height, with distinctive oblong cones and long needles clustered in groups of three. In some loblolly pines, the needles may develop a slightly twisted shape. Loblolly pines grow very quickly, and they can tolerate harsh soil. The name “loblolly” actually means “low wetland,” referencing an environment these pines are particularly fond of, although a loblolly pine does not need wet soil to grow well.
In the Southeastern United States, the loblolly pine is a very important commercial timber species. The strong wood and rapid growth of this tree make it ideal for commercial harvesting, and for the establishment of plantations which can be used to cultivate loblolly pines for future harvests. The loblolly pine tolerates crowded environments and indifferent care, which can be a distinct advantage for timber companies establishing plantations. The rapid growth is also convenient for gardeners who want to establish trees quickly.
In addition to being of interest to the timber industry, the loblolly pine is also important environmentally. These trees can help prevent soil loss by rooting in areas with marginal soil where other trees and plants do not grow, and they also provide habitat to a number of native animals. Also known as the oldfield, Arkansas, or North Carolina pine, the loblolly pine can form stands and forests which are also enjoyable for human recreation, with a distinctive strong scent which makes the trees easy to identify.
One loblolly pine known as the “Eisenhower Tree” or “Eisenhower Pine” has achieved particularly notable status. This pine is located near the 17th hole of the Augusta National Golf Club, and according to legend, the 34th President of the United States routinely hit his golf balls into the tree. Frustrated by the obstacle, he demanded that the golf course cut down the tree. Managers skirted the issue, and visitors to the course today can see the Eisenhower Tree in all its glory, providing shade for people who enjoy watching the action on the course.