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While doing yard work, you might come across some of these pine cones. These are from the most common native pines you’ll find in the Piedmont of the Carolinas and Georgia. By itself, the pine cone cannot necessarily identify the tree, but it’s a good trait to use in combination with other features such as the needles, bark, and shape of the tree. A description of each species is below. I also linked my post on the needles of each tree in the comments. Tap/click on the picture to see the entire image.
Eastern White Pines (Pinus strobus) are more common in the Blue Ridge, but you can find them in woodlands of the upper Piedmont. They’re the largest pine tree in the eastern United States, growing up to nearly 200 feet. The cones are 5-8 inch long, cylindrical, and lack prickles.
Loblolly Pines (Pinus taeda) are abundant in the Piedmont and are often planted in pine plantations. The wood is used for lumber, pulp, and plywood. Mature cones are oval in shape and 4-6 inches long. They have sharp prickles.
The name Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) speaks for itself. Historically, this was the dominant pine tree of the Coastal Plain. You can occasionally find one, perhaps planted, here in the Piedmont. Longleaf Pine requires fire to germinate and not be outcompeted by other trees. The cones are larger than other pines in the region, being 6-10 inches long.
Shortleaf Pines (Pinus echinata) grow across the Piedmont in dry, rocky woodlands and open fields. The mature cones are oval, 1.5-2.5 inches long, and lack sharp prickles.
Virginia Pines (Pinus virginiana) have a scrubby appearance from the retention of their dead lower branches. They often grow on dry uplands or in rocky soils. The cones are oval in shape and 1.5-2.5 inches long. They are similar to the cones of shortleaf pine, but the Virginia Pine cones have more pronounced prickles. ...