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The pine tree, a wide-ranging genus of trees in the Pinaceae family, is the official state tree of Arkansas, according to the 1939 legislation. Many point to the loblolly species, however, as the specific pine of particular adoration. The loblolly pine, or Pinaceae Pinus taeda, makes up about half of all the pine trees in the southern United States. Alternately called the Arkansas pine or North Carolina pine, the loblolly pine has been a prominent contributor toward Arkansas becoming a verdant and profitable timberland.
The loblolly pine grows fast, whether in the natural habitat or in the hundreds of commercial groves found along Arkansas' gently rolling roads. At maturity, it can reach as tall as 100 feet (30 m). Its natural habitat lies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Zone 8 for hardiness, meaning that its average lowest temperature is between 10 and 20°F (-12 to -7°C). This is epitomized by temperatures that are not too extreme — not tropically hot for several months like in South Florida or Texas, but never frigid for long periods as in New England or the Midwest.
Perhaps due to the speed of its growth and the value of its timber, the state tree of Arkansas is frequently used in replanting and forest control efforts. Called silviculture, this field of study is concerned with the regular replenishment of forests, using a variety of tactics like clear-cutting and group selection. Loblolly pine saplings are a common sight in landscaping efforts around Arkansas. Available in abundance in some communities, local environmental groups occasionally hand out free loblolly saplings at county fairs.
Three other types of pine tree can be found in Arkansas. This means there is technically more than just one state tree of Arkansas. Also on the list are the long-leaf, short-leaf and slash pine species. Behind the loblolly in population is the short-leaf species, or Pinus echinata. Still, the loblolly dominates the southern states, with nearly 30,000,000 combined acres of ground coverage, twice the amount of the short-leaf pine.
The pine is recognized as the official tree in several states. The generic "pine" is not just the state tree of Arkansas but also of North Carolina. The white pine represents Maine, Idaho and Michigan, with the long-leaf pine chosen by Alabama, and the red pine symbolizing Minnesota. Out West, varieties like the Ponderosa pine in Montana, Bristlecone pine in Nevada, and nut pine in New Mexico are official state trees.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the state tree of Arkansas?
The state tree of Arkansas is the Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda). It was designated as the official state tree in 1939 due to its significance to the state's natural history and economy. The Loblolly Pine is known for its tall stature and is commonly found in the forests of Arkansas, playing a crucial role in the state's timber industry.
Why was the Loblolly Pine chosen as the state tree of Arkansas?
The Loblolly Pine was chosen as the state tree of Arkansas because of its abundance and economic importance. Arkansas's timber industry heavily relies on this species for its wood, which is used in construction, paper products, and other goods. The tree's prevalence in the state's forests and its value to the economy made it a fitting symbol for Arkansas.
Where can the Loblolly Pine be found in Arkansas?
The Loblolly Pine is widespread throughout Arkansas, especially in the Gulf Coastal Plain and the Arkansas Delta regions. It thrives in the warm, humid climate of the state and can be found in both pure stands and mixed forests. This tree prefers acidic, well-drained soils but is adaptable to various soil types, contributing to its prevalence in the state.
What are some characteristics of the Loblolly Pine?
The Loblolly Pine is a fast-growing conifer that can reach heights of up to 100 feet or more. It has a straight trunk with a dense crown of dark green needles, each about 6 to 9 inches long. The tree produces large cones, approximately 3 to 6 inches in length, and its bark is thick and scaly. Loblolly Pines can live for over 150 years, providing long-term habitats for wildlife.
How does the Loblolly Pine contribute to Arkansas's environment?
The Loblolly Pine plays a vital role in Arkansas's ecosystems by providing habitats for various wildlife species, including birds, squirrels, and insects. Its extensive root system helps prevent soil erosion, and the tree serves as an important source of food and shelter. Additionally, as a significant part of the state's forests, the Loblolly Pine contributes to carbon sequestration, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.