Virginia Pine is technically considered to be in the group of southern yellow pines, though it is a very minor species. The Virginia Pine’s needles occur in pairs. They are twisted and range from 1.5 to 3″ in length. The needles are relatively short when compared to those of other pines. Loblolly needles, by comparison, are from 4 to 9″ long. Individual needle clusters can remain for 3 or 4 years. They are then shed and replaced with new needles as the branches grow in length.
A Staple Pine Tree
Virginia pine has been the staple for the Christmas tree industry in the south since its inception. But in prior times it was not considered to be commercially significant to the forest products industry. Due to the intense demand for planting stock with enhanced Christmas tree characteristics, two genetic improvement programs were initiated. Both pine genetic improvement programs were begun in the early 1980’s. One was a Texas Forest Service project and the other was based at Alabama A&M University. In both cases, the respective State Christmas tree associations were major contributors to the effort. After years of progeny tests and selective removal of trees from the seed orchards, growers have Virginia pine seed sources specifically cultured for Christmas tree production.