Trees of North America- A guide to field identification-a Golden Field Guide from St. Martin's Press © 2002 By C. Frank Brockman p.28

Diseases of Trees and Shrubs, 2nd edition, by Wayne A. Sinclair and Howard H. Lyon,  © 2005 Cornell University, Cornell University Press, p. 296, 332

USDA, NRCS. 2011. The PLANTS Database (<>, 30 November 2011). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901

Carey, Jennifer A. 1992. Pinus elliottii  In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [2011, August 22]. #84 Pinus elliottii, Steve Christman 5/10/97; updated 2/28/11, 4/20/11
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Map courtesy USDA NRCS PLANTS Database
Slash Pine,
Pinus elliottii Engelm.                             
State List: AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX

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Common names: Yellow slash pine, swamp pine, pitch pine, South Florida slash pine, Dade County slash pine,  Dade County pine, Cuban pine, Honduras Slash Pine

Pinus elliottii Englem. is divided into two geographic variations:
var. densa Little & Dorman- Florida slash pine var. elliottii- Honduras slash pine

Synonyms for var. elliottii:
Pinus caribaea sensu Small, non Morelet
Pinus densa (Little & Dorman) Gaussen var. austrokeyensis Silba, nom. inq.
Pinus heterophylla (Elliott) Sudw.

Home>Families>Pinaceae> Pine (Pinus)>Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii Engelm.)
Pinus elliottii is native to the southern United states from Texas to Florida and north into South Carolina
Synonym: Pinus densa (Little & Dorman) Gaussen-
for var. densa
Slash pine is a native evergreen conifer found across much of the southern United States. The parent slash pine, is the most abundant and widely spread, whereas Florida Slash Pine, var. densa, is native only to central and southern Florida.  Honduras, var. elliottii is native to the same geographic range as well. The two varieties can hybridize were their ranges overlap. There are several distinguishing characteristics between the the parent species and its varieties.  The most obvious is that Pinus elliottii is much taller, growing between 80 to 100 feet tall.  Florida slash pine (densa), on the other hand, usually only grows to around 56 feet.  The champion Slash pine is in Duvall County, Florida, measuring 138 feet tall.   The champion Florida slash pine is 69 feet tall and is located on the penninsula's west coast in Pinellas County, Florida.  Additionally, Florida slash pine's crown usually grows wider and with lower branches than that of Slash Pine.  Pinus elliottii, and its varieties, can reach 2 to 3 feet in diameter.  Other differences can be observed by examining the needles.  Florida slash pine (densa) needles tend to be longer than those of the typical slash pine, whose needles measure between 8
and 11 inches long.  Also, the needles of var. densa are in bundles of 2, while Slash pine's are mostly 3 bundled.  The cones also differ in size, Slash pine having larger cones, measuring 3-6 inches in length, than var. densa. Other than size, the cones share the same characteristics.  Each scale has a sharp prickle, and they are at first yellowish-green in color, turning reddish-brown when mature.  The bark of this species is rough, reddish-brown to grayish-brown, and fissured into large irregular, vertical, scaly plates.  All have small, brown, single winged seeds that fall around October.  Some not so visible differences are the bark thickness and the taproot.  More fire resistant, var. densa has the thicker bark and it also has a longer and thicker taproot. Another fire adaptation var. densa has, is its 2 to 6 year grass-stage as a seedling (pictured below), similar to Longleaf pine.  During this stage, Florida slash pines develop an extensive root system that, in the even the top is killed by fire, allows the tree to sprout from the root collar and survive.  Var. densa saplings are also more tolerant of flooding and drought. They all grow rapidly and may live up to 200 years. 


Both variations prefer moist, poorly draining, fine or medium textured soils with a pH between 4.0 and 6.4.  They are common to areas near steams and ponds.  They require 40 to 80 inches of
Slash pine bark, Pinus elliottii Engelm. var. densa
Brevard County, Florida
©2011, Treesforme original image. See usage requirements.
Grass stage Florida slash pine sapling, Pinus elliottii Engelm. var. densa
Brevard County, Florida
©2011 Treesforme original image. See usage requirements
Pests, Disease and Elemental

The lesser height of Florida slash pine (densa) is believed to be an adaptation for surviving hurricane force winds.  It's deeper root system and grass stage development also make it more wind firm and less prone to windthrow, although severe storms can still cause wind damage.  Common insect pests associated with slash pines in general are black turpentine beetles, engraver beetles, pine webworm, Texas leaf cutting ant, pale weevil and sawflies.  Diseases of most concern and frequency are fusiform rust, caused by Cronartium quercuum f. sp. fusiforme, annosus root rot, Heterobasidion annosum, and a needle blight fungus, Lophedermella cerina. Fusiform rust is more of a problem with Pinus elliottii than any other pine.  Most of the time, it attacks and kills young trees and saplings and can open the way for secondary agents to do further damage.  Annosus root rot can kill trees of any age, although pines can tolerate root loss to as much as half the total root structure before showing above ground symptoms, usually in the form of stunted growth.  Roots usually develop lesions that can spread upward to the butt of the tree, and as the disease progresses, infected trees become more and more prone to windthrow.  Severely infect pine trees should be removed from areas where people congregate, such as parks, as they can become dangerous.  Slash pine plantations throughout eastern United States have suffered major damage. 


Slash pine is the preferred pine species of naval stores across the world for it's gum turpentine and rosin produced from the resin.  The strong, heavy wood also makes it valuable for other timber products, like pulpwood, railroad ties, poles, pilings and veneer.  Also, this species is excellent for reclaiming mine spoils for its soil stabilization abilites and rapid growth rate.
annual rainfall, are cold hardy down to -18°F (var. densa may be a different temperature), and need 250 frost free days. They are shade intolerant and grow better when competing vegetation is regularly removed by fire or other means.
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