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South Florida slash pine
Pinus elliottii var. densa

Copyright by: George D. Gann

General Landscape Uses: Accent or specimen tree in residential and commerical landscapes.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A key element of pine forests of South Florida, including pine rocklands, pine flatwoods and scrubby flatwoods; the only canopy tree in these ecosystems.

Availability: Widely cultivated. Available in Lake Worth at Indian Trails Native Nursery (561-641-9488) and at Amelia's SmartyPlants (561-540-6296) and in Miami at Pro Native Consulting (786-488-3101).

Description: Medium to large tree with a small, irregular to open, broadly conical crown. Trunks usually strait, but sometimes leaning or twisted, to 2 feet in diameter or more, but usually much smaller. Bark dark gray to reddish-brown, furrowed and broken into irregular plates. Needles in bundles of 2s or 3s, 7-12 inches long, dark green and shiny.

Dimensions: Typically 30-50 feet in height in South Florida; to 64 feet in Florida. Taller than broad.

Growth Rate: Moderate to fast.

Range: Endemic to peninsular Florida south to the Monroe County Keys. In the Monroe County Keys, know only from North Key Largo, where now extirpated, and the pine rocklands of Big Pine Key and nearby islands.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Pinelands and scrubby flatwoods.

Soils: Moist to seasonally wet, well-drained sandy or limestone soils, without humus.

Nutritional Requirements: Low; it grows in nutrient poor soils.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun.

Flower Color: Greenish turning brown.

Flower Characteristics: Cone. Pollination is by wind.

Flowering Season: Winter-spring.

Fruit: Brown cone. Cones open and seeds are released the fall following pollination.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides moderate amounts of food and cover for wildlife. However, large trees are very important to cavity nesters.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from seed.

References: Schaefer & Tanner 1997

Comments: Once one of the dominant trees of the South Florida landscape, this handsome tree has been logged and cleared to such an extent that in some areas it is now difficult to find adult trees. In most areas of South Florida with sandy soils this is not a difficult tree to cultivate, but it is more challenging to grow in the limestone soils of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. The wood has been much used for construction and other purposes. See a 2019 post on the Treasure Coast Natives blog on why slash pines self prune.

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

Other data on Pinus elliottii var. densa available from:

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