Here in the Pinus Strobus State our pines are graceful enough with their 5-inch needles. However, I’ve planted a few from Bhutan that come bundled with 8-inch needles, fairly humbling my Maine natives. The design objective is to get the swaying, shimmering effect that really only comes with long leaf species, my favorite being Pinus wallichiana ‘Zebrina.’
Northeasterners tend to think we know pine until we venture south and hit the Virginia line where the longleaf pines begin and stretch some three million acres to East Texas. When I used to visit my parents in south Florida I was always taken aback by the stands of Pinus elliottii that surrounded their property. Despite the spindly nature of the aptly named Slash Pine, their needles are more than twice as long as those of my native white pine
A new book from the University of North Carolina Press, Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See: A New Vision of North America’s Richest Forest ($35) explores the history of the longleafs which once covered 92 million acres starting in Maryland but, through the centuries, have been reduced to a much smaller footprint. The authors are four conservationists, including Beth Maynor Young, who contributes some 160 wonderful photographs and with an introduction by eminent Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson.
In her New York Times review Dominique Browning wrote that Bob Farrar of the Longleaf Alliance is suggesting a new conservation partnership with landowners to bring back the species. Farrar makes an eloquent case for the superiority of the longleaf, a tree so remarkable, he insists, that we don’t deserve’ it. No tree could have a better advocate.
Periodically in CQ and in their newsletter, Southeast Region members work hard to convince themselves (and all the Yankees outside their Zone) that there are plenty of conifers that can stand the heat and humidity down there. It’s become so prevalent a refrain that I’m almost convinced that the only attractive conifer growing in the South is one that an ACS member has imported. This book helps me understand the beauty of this native species and where our SER colleagues have gotten their inspiration.
This just in. Since writing this post I’ve learned that ACS’ Southeast Region members Tom Cox and John Ruter have just published Landscaping with Conifers and Ginko for the Southest and they will be at the National Meeting in August selling autographed copies!- S.C.