Southern Pines

Moonlight through the Pines

Moonlight through the Pines

Georgia, Georgia

A song of you

Comes as sweet and clear

As moonlight through the pines

Georgia On My Mind, by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell

The state song of Georgia, closely associated with native son Ray Charles

Pine trees  have historically been known as pitch trees due to their sap.  Atlanta grew on a site occupied by the Creek people, which included a major village called Standing Peachtree.  There is some dispute over whether the Creek settlement was called Standing Peachtree or Standing Pitch Tree, corrupted later to peach tree. [5]


These 10 species of pine trees are found in the south [2]:

  • Loblolly
  • Shortleaf
  • Slash
  • Longleaf
  • Virginia
  • Eastern White,
  • Pitch
  • Pond
  • Sand
  • Table Mountain

But how do you tell the difference?

Three characteristics help identify a pine:  (1) needle count and length, (2) cone size and configuration, and (3) growth habit, or shape.  The following table may help:


Characteristics of 10 pine trees found in Georgia and the Southeast (ordered by needle count)

UGA’s Extension site has more information and excellent photographs on these and other trees and woody shrubs .

The Significance of Pines

American Robin chicks

American Robin nest in a pine

More than any other trees, people seem to take pines for granted.  We hear ‘”…well I lost a tree, but it was only a pine.”  or  “I’m afraid that pine will fall on my house, so I’m going to take it down.”  You’re not nearly as likely to hear someone talk about a hardwood in those terms.

Red-tailed Nest in Pine

Red-tailed Hawk nest in a pine

Are these sentiments justified?  We think not.  What if we lost every pine in Peachtree Park? easily one third of our urban forest would disappear.  Some of our pines are just as old and stately as our hardwoods and support an abundance of wildlife: Red-tailed and Coopers’s Hawks, Barred and Great Horned Owls, squirrels, nesting songbirds and many more call pine trees home.

References and Additional Information

[1]  Wkipedia: Georgia On My MInd
[2] Georgia Forestry Commission: Pines
[3]  The USDA and Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service: Southern Pine Management
[4]  South Carolina Forestry Commission: What Tree Is This? Needle Leaf – Conifers
[5]  Wikipedia: Peachtree Street
[6]  UGA Extension: Native Plants for Georgia Part I: Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines (B 987)