Pinus virginiana Mill.

Range and Habitat

The native range of Virginia pine. (From Little, 1971.)

Geographic Range

According to Carter and Snow (1990): "Virginia pine generally grows throughout the Piedmont and at lower elevations in the mountains from central Pennsylvania south-westward to northeastern Mississippi, Alabama, and northern Georgia. It is also found in the Atlantic Coastal Plain as far north as New Jersey and Long Island, NY, and extends westward in scattered areas into Ohio, southern Indiana, and Tennessee."


According to Carter and Snow (1990): "The annual precipitation in the native range of Virginia pine averages 890 to 1400 mm (35 to 55 in) and is fairly well distributed throughout the year. Rainfall generally is greatest in the southwestern portion of the range. The climate throughout most of this area is classified as humid.

"Summer temperatures average about 21° to 24° C (70° to 75° F); winter temperatures range from -4° to 4° C (25° to 40° F); and the average number of frost-free days varies from more than 225 on the eastern and southern edge of the Piedmont to 160 days on the more mountainous areas to the west and north."

Soils and Topography

According to Carter and Snow (1990): "Virginia pine grows well on a variety of soils derived from marine deposits, from crystalline rocks, sandstones, and shales, and from limestone to a lesser extent. These are classified as Spodosols and Inceptisols. After harvesting or fire, these soils are subject to moderate sheet and gully erosion; erosion can become severe on shale soils. On many areas that now support Virginia pine, much of the A horizon is gone because of past erosion under intensive agricultural use.

"The species grows best on clay, loam, or sandy loam; it generally does poorly on serpentine soils, shallow shaly soils, and very sandy soils. It thrives only in moderately well drained to well drained soils and is less tolerant of wet sites and impeded drainage than pitch and loblolly pines (Pinus rigida and P. taeda). Virginia pine generally tolerates soil acidities ranging from pH 4.6 to 7.9. Soil beneath a Virginia pine stand was more acidic and contained more organic matter than soil under shortleaf (P. echinata), loblolly, or white (P. strobus) pine stands.

"Virginia pine usually is found at elevations of 15 to 760 m (50 to 2,500 ft). It comes in freely on abandoned farmland throughout its range."

Forest Associates

According to Carter and Snow (1990): "Virginia pine often grows in pure stands, usually as a pioneer species on old fields, burned areas, or other disturbed sites. It is a major species in the forest cover types Virginia Pine-Oak (Society of American Foresters Type 78) and Virginia Pine (Type 79). It is an associate in the following cover types: Post Oak-Blackjack Oak(Type 40), Bear Oak (Type 43), Chestnut Oak (Type 44), White Oak_Black Oak-Northern Red Oak (Type 52), Pitch Pine (Type 45), Eastern Redcedar (Type 46), Shortleaf Pine (Type 75), Loblolly Pine (Type 81), and Loblolly Pine-Hardwood (Type 82).

"Other than those named in the types, species that commonly grow with Virginia pine in various parts of its range are white oak (Quercus alba), southern red oak (Q. falcata), red maple (Acer rubrum), hickories (Carya spp.), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), Table Mountain pine (Pinus pungens), and eastern white pine (P. strobus)."

Habitat Competition

According to Carter and Snow (1990): "Being intolerant of shade, Virginia pine is a transitional type and is eventually replaced by more tolerant hardwood species. It is a pioneer species, coming in after fire, and on eroded areas or wornout old fields. Compared with associated pines, it is generally more successful on poorer sites. Virginia pine seedlings cannot become established under the shade of an existing stand, so hardwoods invade the understory. These hardwoods become dominant and gradually take over the area in succeeding generations, unless fire or other factors retard them."


According to Carter and Snow (1990): "Hybrids of Virginia pine and Ocala sand pine (Pinus clausa var. clausa) can be made under controlled conditions with either species as the seed parent. Controlled crosses of P. virginiana with jack pine (P. banksiana) and lodgepole pine (P. contorta) have not been successful."

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