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Revivification of a method for identifying longleaf pine timber and its application to southern pine relicts in southeastern Virginia

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Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) cannot be distinguished from the other southern pines based on wood anatomy alone. A method that involves measuring pith and second annual ring diameters, reported by Arthur Koehler in 1932 (The Southern Lumberman, 145: 36–37), was revisited as an option for identifying longleaf pine timbers and stumps. Cross-section disks of longleaf, loblolly (Pinus taeda L.), and shortleaf (Pinus echinata Mill.) pines were measured and the diameters of their piths and second annual rings plotted against each other. From this plot, longleaf pine could be differentiated from the other two southern pine species, demonstrating that a method established with trees harvested more than 70 years ago is still applicable to standing timber of today. No evidence was found to suggest that different growth rates impact method applicability. In those situations where the second annual ring is intact, but not the pith, very large second annual ring diameters (>40 mm) may identify timbers with a lower probability of being longleaf pine. In addition to the identification of very old lightwood stumps as part of a longleaf pine restoration effort, both methods may be applied to timber identification in historic structures and the niche forest products industry involving the recovery and processing of highly prized longleaf pine logs from river bottoms. Measurements from relicts sampled in this study were consistent with the purported range for longleaf pine in Virginia.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, 2500 Shreveport Highway, Pineville, LA 71360, USA. 2: Meadowview Biological Research Station, 8390 Fredericksburg Tnpk., Woodford, VA 22580, USA. 3: College of Natural Resources and Environment, Virginia Tech, 115 Major Williams Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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