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Long Leaf Pine Essay, Research Paper

Long Leaf Pine


The long leaf pine community, also known as a high pine community, occurs on well-drained soils and are well adapted to fires. They are found on the high ground in Florida where the soil can not contain the water and the sandy soil remains dry in between the rains. This community requires frequent, low-intensity fires, which occur every one to ten years, to open seed cones and allow the community to regenerate.


The long leaf pine community is characterized by the presence of the long leaf pine trees and perennial grasses as ground cover. There are a few oaks present but most are burned out by the frequent fires because they can not adapt to fire as the pines have. The community also provides food for wildlife such as saw palmetto and oaks that provide sufficient food when they are fruiting. This community is completely dependent on fire and the pines have adapted well to surviving fire.


The soils found in the high pines are very dry coarse sandy coils. There is also sandy clay that is a dry soil that is rich in nutrients. The majority of soils are classified as entisols, which are excessively drained, highly permeable, and low and nutrients. The clay soil is in a soil group known as paleudults that have fertility rating from moderating to good.


There are several variations of this ecosystem. Where fire is excluded and/or the pines have been removed, oaks dominate. Ground cover under the overstory of pine trees and shrubs is scattered and sometimes absent. The floor of the system is littered with dry pine needles that provide fuel for the low intensity fires that the system needs to survive. There are also scattered hardwoods that have managed to survive in the system.

Fig. 1? Long leaf pine


Long leaf pine is the prime species of softwood, bluejack oak and turkey oak are the prime species of hardwoods. Other species include southern red oak or Spanish oak, sand post oak, live oak, Arkansas oak, persimmon, black cherry, sassafras, mockernut hickory and sand hickory

Herbaceous Plants

Sparkleberry, pawpaw, myrtle oak, wire grass, bluestems, piney woods dropseed, bracken fern, gopher apple, golden aster, low-bush blueberry, blackberry, hairawn muhly

Fig. 2? Wire grass


Long leaf pine community supports many vertebrates found in a number of other habitats. Few of these animals however, depend on this dry upland habitat for survival. The best adapted to the environment are the burrowers such as the gopher tortoise. There are also many types of birds in the community, some of which are endangered and rely on the pines extensively. Wildlife that use this system include:


Sherman’s fox squirrel, Florida mouse, pocket gopher, Florida panther


Bobwhite quail, ground dove, rufous-sided towhee, red cockaded woodpecker, brown headed nuthatch, yellow breasted chat, Bachman?s sparrow, pine warbler, eastern bluebird, hairy woodpecker, southeastern kestrel.


Gopher Tortoise, eastern indigo snake, blue-tailed mole skink, short-tailed snake.

Fig. 3? Gopher tortoise burrow

Land Use Interpretations

The long leaf pine has a great commercial value and has been logged extensively ever since settlers first arrived to this country. Even today the long leaf pine is the choice for many types of lumber including its main role as the perfect tree for telephone poles. This is due to its height, durability, and the fact that the tree grows almost perfectly straight. The pine is also grows very fast which makes it a perfect tree to plant and harvest for paper production.

Fig 4? Long leaf pine community


There was a problem for sometime of humans cutting down the pines for commercial use and not replacing the supply after logging. At one point European settlers logged nearly all of the old growth forests leaving nothing behind.


These concerns have since been addressed and measures have been taken to protect this valuable resource such as replanting seedlings and using fire to maintain the natural balance within the systems. Many of these areas are managed as a farmer would a field of wheat or corn. This insures that there will be ample amounts of pine trees for generations to come.


Fires play a huge role in the long leaf pine community. The fires are required for a number of reasons. The low intensity fires found in this system are used to open up the seed cones and fertilize the ground to facilitate growth of the new seed. The fires also ensure that unwanted species of plant life is burned out before it has a chance to take place within the pine community. The pine trees have a great adaptation to fire where as other species can not handle it and are subsequently burned out.

Fig. 5? Cones waiting fire to open them

Sand Pine


If one travels west on SR 40 from Daytona Beach, eventually the signs for Ocala National Forest will be noticed. Once entering the forest, the ecosystem of the sand pine community can be observed. Also called a scrub community, no other ecosystem quiet compares to this Florida?s mature forest.



Practically all scrub soils have little or no development and are derived from quartz sand. Regardless of their geological origin, soils supporting scrub vegetation are excessively well-drained siliceous sand practically devoid of silt clay, and organic matter and thus low nutrients. Even though they represent some of the droughtiest, least fertile soils in the state, scrub soils are by no means uniform. They range from the pure white, excessively leached St. Lucia series to moderately leached soils that have yellowish sandy subsoil, such as the Paola and Orsino series, to the unleached brownish, grayish, or yellowish soils of the Astatula and Tavarea series. The color of a particular scrub soil reflects the length of time that the soil has supported scrub vegetation, as some soil characteristics are the result of biotic actions on the soil parent materials. Although scrub soils are excessively well drained, drought stress may not be a common occurrence. Even though the majority of fine roots of scrub species are shallow, these species also have deep ?sinker? roots that tap soil moisture at considerable depths.


Scrub vegetation varies from place to place, yet it possesses a uniformity of aspects that is common to most. This uniformity is due to the fact that the woody vegetation is almost always composed of the same six species in approximately the same order of abundance regardless of the density of the sand pines: myrtle oak or scrub oak, saw palmetto, sand live oak, Chapman?s oak, rusty lyonia, and Florida rosemary. The ground cover, though always sparse, almost invariably includes gopher apple, beak rush, milk peas, plus the lichens British soldier moss. Usually the density of the ground cover is inversely proportional to the density of the sand pines and shrubs.


A host of animal species utilize the scrub. Vertebrates generally restricted to scrub habitats are the Florida mouse, the Florida scrub jay, the Florida scrub lizard, the sand skink, and the blue-tailed mole skink. The scrub jay, sand skink, mole skink are federally listed as threatened. The gopher tortoise, usually considered a sand hill species, frequently burrows in scrub but feeds in nearby herbaceous vegetation. A number of large, wide-ranging, or widely distributed mammals utilize scrub, including black bear, white-tailed deer, bobcats, gray fox, spotted skunk, and raccoon.

Land Use Interpretations

The sand pine has environmental value as a Natural System. The one good that this system is used for is during high waters; the animals use this area for protection because of its good drainage.


There is no potential for rangeland use.


Most of the extensive sand pine scrub in the Ocala National forest is managed for pulp. The pines are clear-cut in blocks ranging from 50 to 100 ha; the logging equipment mechanically reduces the stature of the shrub layer; and then the sites are reseeded using a ?spot scarifier.?


The soil of the sand pine community is to dry to be used as urbanland


The role of fire in the scrub is far more complicated than usually portrayed, and the patterns created are varied. Scrub, like many of Florida?s ecosystems, is pyrogenic?that is, its flora and fauna have developed adaptations to fire. High-intensity fires that recur infrequently, perhaps once every 10 or even 100 years, depending on fuel accumulation and chance ignitions maintain scrub. Fire in scrub does not initiate widespread changes in species composition but rather create small localized micro-disturbances. Following fire, most of the existent species either resprout or survive the immediate postburn period as seed.


While long leaf and sandy pines are both very sandy and dry areas, there are some differences. For one thing, the soil in the long leaf community has much more nutrients then that of the sandy pine community. The water drains off quite easily in both of these systems, leaving them very dry. The big difference here however is that the long leaf pine community is much more susceptible to fire than the sand pine due to a significant amount of ground cover compared to that of the sand pine. Small fires occur frequently in the long leaf community ranging from every 2 to 10 years apart. Fires occur much more infrequently in the sand pine community ranging from about 10 to 100 years. The main reason for this is because the floor of the long leaf community is much denser than that of the sand pine.

The pine trees of both of these communities are very adept to fires and as such have developed an immunity to fire. They both use fire to open up their pinecones, enabling them to regenerate themselves.


Ecology, Microsoft? Encarta? 97 Encyclopedia.? 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation.

Ecosystems of Florida, Myers and Ewel, University of Central Florida Press, 1990

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