Monday, April 14, 2008

On Pines and Needles

While driving through the Ochlockonee River Management Area, we noticed that the longleaf pines had hit a growth spurt. The trees we were looking at were in the sapling stage, having progressed from the grass stage to the bottlebrush stage to now being about 6-10 feet tall and beginning to have lateral branches. The recent growth was apparent by the candles, the name for the whitish growing tip. These reportedly may grow a few feet in only a few months.



We were impressed.



This one measured about 32 inches!


Around May, green needles begin to emerge from the candle and the white candle begins to turn scaly and brown as bark begins to form. The brown bark helps to protect this new growth from fire. Also, the taller the tree is, the more protected it is from fire.

B's boy scouts helped plant wiregrass plugs here as a part of the state's longleaf-wiregrass reforestation project about four years ago. These trees were in the grass stage then. They were busy at that time putting down good tap roots to support this growth. With our rainfall looking more like normal, the longleafs have shot up and hopefully will continue to thrive and take their historic place in the north Florida landscape.