Pinus elliottii Engelm.

Range and Habitat

The native range of slash pine. The solid black line separates (northward) the typical variety from (southward) South Florida slash pine, Pinus elliottii var. densa. (From Little, 1971.)

Geographic Range

According to Lohrey and Kossuth (1990) : "Slash pine has the smallest native range of the four major southern pines. The range extends over 8° latitude and 10° longitude, and 45 percent of the present growing stock is in Georgia. Slash pine grows naturally from Georgetown County, SC, south to central Florida, and west to Tangipahoa Parish, LA. Its native range includes the lower Coastal Plain, part of the middle Coastal Plain, and the hills of south Georgia. The species has beeen established by planting as far north as Tennessee, in north central Georgia, and Alabama. It has also been planted and direct-seeded in Louisiana and eastern Texas where it now reproduces naturally.

"Within its natural range, the distribution of slash pine was initially determined by its susceptibility to fire injury during the seedling stage. Slash pine grew throughout the flatwoods of north Florida and south Georgia. It was also common along streams and the edges of swamps and bays. Within these areas either ample soil moisture or standing water protected young seedlings from frequent wildfires in young forest.

"With improved fire protection and heavy cutting of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), slash pine has spread to drier sites, replaced longleaf pine in mixed stands, and invaded abandoned fields. This increase in acreage was possible because of slash pine's frequent and abundant seed production, rapid early growth, and ability to withstand wildfires and rooting by hogs after the sapling stage."


According to Lohrey and Kossuth (1990) : "The climate within the natural range of slash pine is warm and humid with wet summers and drier falls and springs. Rainfall averages about 1270 mm (50 in) per year and summer rains of 13 mm (0.5 in) or more occur about four times per month. The mean annual temperature in the slash pine region is 17° C (63° F), with extremes of 41° C (106° F) and -18° C (0° F), and growing season of 250 days. It has been suggested that the average minimum temperature may be the most critical factor limiting the distribution of slash pine; however, precipitation, fire, or competition may be important in specific areas."

Soils and Topography

According to Lohrey and Kossuth (1990) : "Soils within the range of slash pine are mostly Spodosols, Ultisols, and Entisols. Spodosols and Entisols are common along the coasts of Florida while the Ultisols are in the northern part of the range. The most frequently found suborders are Udults, Aquults, Psamments, and Aquods. Topography varies little throughout the southeastern Coastal Plain, but small changes in elevation frequently coincide with abrupt changes in soil and site conditions.

"Although slash pine is adaptable to a variety of site and topographic conditions, it grows best on pond margins and in drainages where soil moisture is ample but not excessive and the soil is well aerated. Growth is unsatisfactory on deep, well drained sands (sandhills) and on poorly drained savanna soils with high water tables (crawfish flats). Growth is intermediate on inadequately drained soils. Specific factors related to height growth, and hence to productivity, vary somewhat, but the most influential are those related to the amount of water or space available to tree roots."

Forest Associates

According to Lohrey and Kossuth (1990) : "Slash pine is a major component of three forest cover types including Longleaf Pine-Slash Pine (Society of American Foresters Type 83), Slash Pine (Type 84), and Slash Pine-Hardwood (Type 85). The species is also included as an associate in the following cover types: 70-Longleaf Pine, 74-Cabbage Palmetto, 81-Loblolly Pine, 82-Loblolly Pine-Hardwood, 87-Atlantic White-Cedar, 98-Pond Pine, 100-Pondcypress, 103-Water Tupelo-Swamp Tupelo, 104-Sweetbay-Swamp Tupelo-Redbay, 111-South Florida Slash Pine. Since it has been artificially progagated far outside its natural range, slah pine can now be found in association with many other species."

Habitat Competition

According to Lohrey and Kossuth (1990) : "Slash pine is relatively intolerant of competition and is classed as intolerant of shade. Stands protected from fires are invaded and replaced by more tolerant hardwood species. Unreleased seedlings established by direct seeding under a hardwood overstory seldom exceed 15 cm (6 in) in height the first year, while those freed from competition may reach 41 cm (16 in).Increased survival and growth of young trees on intensively prepared sites is attributed largely to the control of competing vegetation.

"Because of this intolerance, even-aged management is usually recommended for slash pine. Either the seed-tree or shelterwood system of natural regeneration may be used. Exposed mineral soil is of primary importance in establishing natural regeneration. Overstory seed trees should be removed promptly after the new seedlings are well established. Failure to do so may retard growth in height, diameter, and merchantable volume of the next crop. An alternative to natural regeneration is to clearcut and establish a new stand by planting or direct seeding."


According to Lohrey and Kossuth (1990) : "Slash pine crosses naturally with the South Florida variety where their ranges meet and introgression has occurred among trees in the transition zone to the degree that it is difficult to distinguish between the two varieties."

"In areas where the natural distribution of slash pine overlaps that of the other pines, natural hybridization is usually precluded by phenology. Sand pine (P. clausa) is the earliest flowering pine and is followed by slash, longleaf, loblolly, and shortleaf (P. echinata) pines, the later of which tend to shed pollen when slash pine strobili are no longer receptive. Late flowering sand pine or early flowering longleaf pine may hybridize with slash pine. Successful artificial hybridization depends on the choice of the female parent species. There has been more successful sound seed produced in the slash × longleaf cross than in the reciprocal and no sound seeds were obtained in the sand × slash pine cross.

"Slash pine has been artificially crossed with longleaf, loblolly, shortleaf, pitch (P. rigida), and Caribbean (P. caribaea) pines. None of the offspring show potential hybrid vigor. The longleaf × slash hybrid shows the most potential because height growth begins quickly; it grows almost as fast as slash pine, self prunes well, is fairly resistant to both brown-spot needle disease and fusiform rust, and resembles longleaf pine in form and branching habit. On swampy sites in Australia there is some indication the Caribbean × slash hybrid progeny show superior yield to either parent alone. Slash × shortleaf hybrids have up to 16 percent dwarfs with some polyploids and mixoploids."

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