A Tree Identification Booklet
for South Carolina Forests
Needle Leaf - Conifers
Characteristics: The baldcypress has cone-shaped knees projecting from submerged roots. It is the only native conifer which sheds its needle-shaped leaves each winter. Baldcypress trunks are enlarged at the base.
Location: This tree grows in very watery sites, swampy soils of riverbanks and flood plain lakes that are sometimes submerged.
Use: The wood is used in heavy construction, including docks, warehouses, boats, bridges and general millwork and interior trim. It can be used as an ornamental tree.
FUN TREE FACT: Called the wood-eternal because of the heartwood's resistance to decay.
Characteristics: This is a lacy evergreen tree. The flat needles are round-tipped and marked on the lower surface with two pale lines. The hemlock has a broad-based shape and the branches are often drooping and "feathery".
Location: You only find this tree in the mountains of South Carolina. The eastern hemlock grows in acid soils. Often you will find the tree in moist cool valleys and ravines. Hemlocks grow very well in the shade of larger trees.
Use: It is a graceful ornamental tree. The wood is light, soft and brittle. Sometimes it is used for construction lumber and plywood.
FUN TREE FACT: The bark was a commercial source of tannin in the production of leather. Pioneers made tea from the leafy twigs and brooms from the branches.
"Old field pine"
Characteristic: Loblolly pine needles are 5 to 9 inches long. The bark is thick dark-reddish brown. The crown is rounded and the trunk is tall and straight.
Location: Loblolly grows throughout the state. Loblolly is the principal commercial pine of the southeast because it grows well on a variety of sites.
Use: Loblolly pine is used for lumber, plywood and pulpwood (paper).
FUN TREE FACT: One meaning for the word loblolly is "mud puddle" because these pines often grow on wet sites. It is also called "old field pine" because it seeds in open fields very readily.
Characteristics: Longleaf is named for its very long lustrous drooping needles, which are 10-15" and in clusters of 3. The needles are crowded into dense tufts toward the end of the branches. The 6-10" cone is the largest of any southern pine. When young, the seedlings pass through a "grass" stage for a few years in wwhich the stem grows thickness rather than height and the taproot develops rapidly.
Location: Longleaf generally grows in very sandy soils. Most common in the Midlands and Coastal Plain.
Use: The wood is used for lumber, poles, pilings and plywood. The sap is collected for processing into turpentine and resin. The seeds are eaten by squirrels, turkey and songbirds.
FUN TREE FACT: Hogs root up the seedlings and eat bark and soft wood of the tap root.
"Marsh Pine", "Pocosin Pine"
Characteristics: The slender needles are in clusters of 3 and 6-8" long. The cones are egg-shaped and remain closed on the tree for many years.
Location: The pond pine prefers to grow in wet to moist swamps, shallow bays and ponds areas.
Use: The wood is very resinous and heavy and used for lumber and pulpwood.
FUN TREE FACT: "Pocosin" is an Indian name for pond or bog. The Latin name serotina means "late" referring to the cones which remain closed for years before opening. After fires or other damage, seedlings and trees will produce sprouts from the roots.
Characteristics: Needles are only 2 to 4 inches long. Examine the bark for small round holes which often appear damp with resin; these holes are pitch pockets. Also look for the dimples in the bark which is only on the shortleaf pine. The small cones resemble the size and shape of an egg.
Location: Shortleaf pine grows throughout the Piedmont and Midlands, often on rocky, upland sites.
Use: The lumber is used in plywood, veneer and pulpwood.
FUN TREE FACT: Unlike most other pines, small shortleaf can sprout new growth following fire damage or injury.
"Yellow Slash Pine", "Swamp Pine"
Characteristics: Slash pine is one of the most important pines of the southeastern U.S. The needles are dark green 8-12" long in 2- or 3-needle clusters. The fast-growing tree commonly grows to 100 feet with a tall straight trunk. The horizontal branches form a handsome tree.
Location: Slash pines grow in low areas such as pond margins, flatwoods, swamps including poorly drained sandy soils and also in uplands and old fields.
Use: This wood is heavy, hard, durable and stiff. It is very important both for lumber and ship building and sealing.
FUN TREE FACT: The common name comes from the turpentine face or "slash" cut into the bark to collect the resinous sap.
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