Southern Yellow Pine Tree

By: C. Colston Burrell
An aerial view of a group of yellow pine trees.
The Southern yellow pine tree has very long needles. Giacomo Augugliaro / Getty Images

The southern yellow pine tree, also known as the longleaf pine, does indeed have very long needles, three to a bundle, that are often put to good use as Christmas decorations when cut.

Description of southern yellow pine tree: Young trees go through a long 'grass stage' in which they remain at ground level, with no trunk, until their long taproot is fully developed. They then produce a trunk and branches and, for another few decades, have a triangular growth pattern. At maturity, they lose their lower branches and form a rounded top on a straight trunk that reaches up to 80 feet in height. The persistent needles are striking in length: up to 18 inches long, although 8 to 15 inches is the average. The cones, up to 12 inches long, may remain on the tree for 20 years.


Growing southern yellow pine tree: The southern yellow pine prefers full sun and sandy soils with good drainage. It grows poorly in heavy soils and is difficult to transplant.

Uses for southern yellow pine tree: This tree is interesting for backgrounds and windbreaks.

Southern yellow pine tree related species: The pitch pine (Pinus rigida) has an appearance similar to the Southern yellow pine, but with shorter needles. It is a better choice for colder climates.

Scientific name of southern yellow pine tree: Pinus palustris


Want more information on trees and gardening? Try:

  • Shade Trees:Towering overhead, shade trees can complement even the biggest house, and define the amount of sunlight that reaches your yard.
  • Flowering Trees: Many trees offer seasonal blooms that will delight any visitor to your yard or garden.
  • Types of Trees: Looking for fresh ideas about what to plant? Find out about different species that can turn your yard into a verdant oasis.
  • Gardening: Get great tips about how to keep your garden healthy and thriving.