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The pine tree, a wide-ranging genus of trees in the Pinaceae family, is the official state tree of Arkansas, according to the 1939 legislation. Many point to the loblolly species, however, as the specific pine of particular adoration. The loblolly pine, or Pinaceae Pinus taeda, makes up about half of all the pine trees in the southern United States. Alternately called the Arkansas pine or North Carolina pine, the loblolly pine has been a prominent contributor toward Arkansas becoming a verdant and profitable timberland.
The loblolly pine grows fast, whether in the natural habitat or in the hundreds of commercial groves found along Arkansas' gently rolling roads. At maturity, it can reach as tall as 100 feet (30 m). Its natural habitat lies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Zone 8 for hardiness, meaning that its average lowest temperature is between 10 and 20°F (-12 to -7°C). This is epitomized by temperatures that are not too extreme — not tropically hot for several months like in South Florida or Texas, but never frigid for long periods as in New England or the Midwest.
Perhaps due to the speed of its growth and the value of its timber, the state tree of Arkansas is frequently used in replanting and forest control efforts. Called silviculture, this field of study is concerned with the regular replenishment of forests, using a variety of tactics like clear-cutting and group selection. Loblolly pine saplings are a common sight in landscaping efforts around Arkansas. Available in abundance in some communities, local environmental groups occasionally hand out free loblolly saplings at county fairs.
Three other types of pine tree can be found in Arkansas. This means there is technically more than just one state tree of Arkansas. Also on the list are the long-leaf, short-leaf and slash pine species. Behind the loblolly in population is the short-leaf species, or Pinus echinata. Still, the loblolly dominates the southern states, with nearly 30,000,000 combined acres of ground coverage, twice the amount of the short-leaf pine.
The pine is recognized as the official tree in several states. The generic "pine" is not just the state tree of Arkansas but also of North Carolina. The white pine represents Maine, Idaho and Michigan, with the long-leaf pine chosen by Alabama, and the red pine symbolizing Minnesota. Out West, varieties like the Ponderosa pine in Montana, Bristlecone pine in Nevada, and nut pine in New Mexico are official state trees.
@pleonasm - It is still better than the current alternatives. Since people need the wood for various applications and they will get it however they can, one alternative is to cut down existing forests.
I'd much rather they were planting new ones to cut, even if the new ones are temporary and don't add much to the area.
And, if the forest is maintained properly, there can be quite a few species living in there. Many more than you would find in a car park.
Granted they won't be the species that would be there if it was the original forest, but anything is better than nothing, and usually commercial pine forests are grown on farming land that has been exhausted or is too steep for anything else, so they would otherwise be fields subject to erosion which is much worse.
@umbra21 - Unfortunately many of the pine forests today are commercial ones, which means that the trees don't have time to reach true maturity. They are usually thinned out and cut down well before that.
Since they are grown in dense stands of a single kind of tree they don't tend to have the feel of a natural forest either.
Pine needles, when gathered too closely, tend to stop other kinds of plants from growing. And, without the undergrowth of a natural forest, forest animals aren't able to find shelter.
So, a commercial pine forest is often touted as an environmental boon, but in reality it doesn't provide much more than a car park in terms of species biodiversity.
It seems like the pine tree would be the first choice of a lot of places since it is such an important tree, both commercially and in culture. There are a lot of different pine trees though, so it seems almost unfair for a state to claim the whole species as their official state tree.
A pine forest can be a beautiful thing, particularly on the coast. A mature one smells so nice and it's lovely for walking since there isn't much undergrowth.
I like collecting a few pine cones to bring home, just so that the smell of the forest fills up my house for a few days.
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