Shortleaf pine forests and associated habitats once covered a vast area of the continent – from eastern Oklahoma and Texas, to the Atlantic Coast from New Jersey down to Florida – and helped fuel industrial expansion into the region. Early settlers and Government Land Office surveys describe many of these pine- dominated and mixed pine-oak forests as open woodlands where enough sunlight reached the ground to support a diverse assortment of native wildlife species.
These resilient and adaptive forests, spanning parts of twenty-two states, represent an extraordinary diversity of cultural, ecological, and economic values, yet are being displaced. With millions of people depending upon the benefits this under-appreciated species provides, including wildlife and recreation, water quality and high-value wood products, the need to conserve and better manage the shortleaf pine ecosystem is more compelling than ever.
Shortleaf pine is the most widespread pine species in the southeastern United States. Its natural range includes 21 states, extending from New York, south to north Florida and west into Texas and the eastern quarter of Oklahoma. Shortleaf-dominated landscapes support a wide variety of native grasses, wildflowers, forbs and wildlife species; survive on the harshest of sites; and are adapted to frequent wildfire and drought.
Habitat loss for the species is a concern and is the result of several factors, including changes in fire frequency, large-scale tree plantings of faster-growing loblolly pine which have displaced native shortleaf on many sites and an increase in shortleaf X loblolly hybrids that is jeopardizing shortleaf’s genetic integrity.
Learn more about shortleaf pine conservation at the Oklahoma Forestry Services.
Shortleaf Pine Initiative