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We are in debt to our Pine Trees

There are many species of pine tree scattered all over the state of Delaware, and even more pines all over America. However, the three most common pines in Delaware are the Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda,) the Virginia pine (P. virginiana,) and the Eastern White pine (P. strobus.)

Loblolly pine P. taeda

Loblolly pine is considered the principal commercial species in Delaware and it is predominantly found in the southern part of the state below the canal. Adaptable to a variety of sites, it seeds into open areas readily. Loblolly seeds are sometimes eaten by wild turkeys, squirrels, and some songbirds. (It is not uncommon to find the centers of cones that have been left behind by squirrels.) On good sites the tree can reach over 100 feet in height with a trunk diameter of two to three feet.

Loblolly pine usually has three needles (but sometimes two) which are usually 6 to 9 inches long.

The state champion Loblolly pine can be found in Redden State Forest, along Rt 113, north of Georgetown. It has a diameter of about 39.5 inches and is 122 feet tall.

At Abbott’s Mill Nature Center there are several large Loblolly pines shading the picnic area in front of the Nature Center.

Loblolly pines shading the picnic area

If you take a walk down the “Meadow and Forest trail” trail behind to the restrooms, you’ll very soon come to a circular seating area in the middle of a whole grove of Loblolly pines.

Loblolly pines down the trail behind the Nature Center

Please don’t collect the pine cones, they are referenced during several classes that are taught at that spot.

Virginia pine P. virginiana

Virginia pine is commonly a small to medium-sized tree that is useful for reforesting abandoned and cutover lands and is also a source of pulpwood and lumber. However, there are a few record trees that have measured over 100 feet in height. Virginia pine tends to do best in moderately well-drained to well-drained soils and is less tolerant of wet sites and impeded drainage than either pitch or loblolly pines.

Virginia pine has two needles per bundle, each of which is about 1.5 to 3 inches long.

The state champion Virginia pine is also in Redden State Forest and has a diameter of about 24 inches and is 98 feet tall. The second-place champ is somewhere in Killens Pond State Park, with a diameter of about 22 inches, and a height of 101 feet.

At AMNC take the “Meadow and Forest trail” all the way back to the meadow, (where the powerline is), and you'll find a single Virginia pine on the right side of the trail just before the meadow.

A large Virginia pine along side of the Meadow Trail

Turn left along the edge of the woods and there are several more before you get to the semi-circular teaching station.

Eastern White pine P. strobus

Most of Delaware’s native pines are in the southern two counties, but white pines are planted throughout the First State. Eastern White pine is a long-lived soft pine that is capable of reaching heights above 200 feet and diameters of four feet. Its wood is light, straight-grained, easy to work, but not strong. It is often used in cabinetry, interior finishes, and for lumber. Rich in economic and historical significance, the tree is very good for reforestation and landscaping uses.

Eastern White pine needles come in bundles of five, each of which is 3 to 5 inches long.

The state champion Eastern White pine is at the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery, Wilmington and has a diameter of about 46 inches and a height of 101 feet.

There is a single White pine growing in the native flower bed near the little frog pond in front of the Nature Center, and many more along the fence-line behind the Nature Center.

A number of White pines just on the other side of the fence behind the Nature Center. (Behind them are several Chinese chestnut trees)

Sources: "Delaware Trees" - William S. Taber

"Big Trees of Delaware," 5th edition

Here’s a little trick for identifying our three most common pines:

Virginia pine starts with the letter “V,” and has two needles, which form a “V.”

Lob-lol-ly pine has three syllables and usually has three needles.

White pine has five letters and five needles.

And now, you’re an expert, too.


Why is the Nature Center closed?

It's closed because the entire interior is being renovated. All the walls have been painted and that nasty old carpet, that was at least 30 years old, has been replaced with vinyl wood-looking tile.

Two views of the meeting room

Office opposite the main entrance.

So, where is everything?

All the furniture and displays are temporarily sharing space with the fishes, turtles and snakes in the wet-lab.

Still to come, many of the windows and doors are set to be replaced.

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