Welcome to the Pinetum. Pinetum means place of pine trees. The Pinetum Interpretive Loop will take you into the world of pines, one of our most important group of trees. Along the way you will see pines from several world continents and learn interesting facts about them. Each of the numbered markers along the route is described in this brochure. Your tour of the Pinetum will take about 35 minutes, ending here where it begins.
Tree images and fact sheets are courtesy Virginia Tech Dendrology
Here are two pines from opposite ends of the earth. Himalayan white pine (P. wallichiana) grows in the Himalaya mountains of norhern India. Just ahead, Eastern white pine (P. strobus) grows in eastern North America. Can you see the similarities? Both are considered soft pines (also called white pines) because their wood is softer and whiter than other pines and easily worked with tools. Soft pines usually have five pine needles in each needle bundle. Though these trees grow so far apart, they prefer the cool climates that can be found both in North America and India.
2. Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
From now on we will see hard pines like Scots pine. Hard pines have harder, yellow-colored wood and usually two or three needles per bundle. Scots pine grows naturally in more countries of the world than any other pine. It is also the world's most popular Christmas tree. Like most pines, Scots pine specializes in growing in places with soil too dry and low in plant nutrients for hardwood trees. On sites with good soil, the hardwoods grow well, crowding out the pines. That's why we often find pines growing on ridge tops and rocky places.
3. Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)
The tall straight pine near the woods edge is loblolly pine, a Georgia native tree (grows here naturally). It is the most important tree in Georgia's forest products industry. Why? Like most other pines, loblolly grows best in full sunlight, so we can plant thousands of pine seedlings (young pine trees) together in a field. This makes the pine tree crop easy to manage and harvest. Pine trees produce one main trunk that is straight and has small branches. Little of the tree is wasted, and the light weight, strong wood makes it ideal for lumber and paper too. Loblolly pine grows faster than any other Georgia pine.
4. Mason Pine (Pinus massoniana)
Mason pine is found in China, Korea and Japan. It is a hard pine with two or three needles per bundle. Masson pine pollen has been used as a medicinal tea in China since ancient times, and modern studies show the pollen promotes liver health. If eating pollen seems odd, think of the world's most famous spice, saffron which is the pollen of the Crocus sativa flower. Chinese people also collect mason pine sap and make it into turpentine and other useful products.
5. Mexican Pines
Mexico has more types of pines than any other place on earth. This is because Mexico has a dry climate and mountainous terrain. The pine tree's ability to grow in dry, low-nutrient soil makes it able to thrive in these conditions where other trees can not survive. The long narrow shape and waxy coating of pine needles helps conserve moisture. Thick bark protects pines from the frequent fires of dry places. Evergreen pine needles produce food (photosynthesize) year-round, and the tree's water-holding cells are made so freezing weather does not break them. These Mexican pines grow high in the Sierra Madre (Holy Mother) mountains above 6,000 feet elevation.
6. Bonsai pines
The trees to the right are Japanese black pines (Pinus thunbergi). To the left are Japanese red pines (Pinus densiflora). Both are native to Japan and are planted as landscape trees here in America. Both trees are also frequently used in the Japanese art of bonsaii, where tree seedlings are planted in trays or bowls and encouraged by pruning to remain small and take on interesting shapes. Bonsai trees can live for more than a century, and often a tree is passed from one generation to the next, becoming a family treasure. The red pine is considered feminine, and is called Akamatsu. The black pine is considered masculine and called Kuromatsu.
These large rocks tell the story of how the Pinetum's sandy soil was formed. Long ago molten rock called magma flowed into underground chambers, cooling slowly to form a rock with lots of quartz and aluminum called granite. After many years the soil above the rocks washed away. Heat, rain and cold started cracking the rock into pieces. Slowly the granite rock was broken down into the sandy soil of the Pinetum. But these old rocks are harder than the rocks once surrounding them. They have been here resisting heat, rain and cold for thousands of years. They will probably be here for thousands more.
8. Stone Pine (Pinus pinea)
Stone pine comes originally from Spain, but its large edible nuts have been eaten by man since prehistoric times, and early man planted this useful pine all along ancient trade routes throughout the Mediterranean area of Europe. Stone pine seeds are very rich in protein and are considered a delicacy in Spain and Italy. Two hundred pounds of stone pine cones are needed to produce 40 pounds of edible seeds.
9. Maritime Pine (Pinus pinaster)
Like the stone pine we just saw, maritime pine also comes from the Mediterranean region of Europe. This region's name and its climate come from the Mediterranean Sea along its borders. Cold winter winds are warmed when they flow across the sea, bringing mild winter temperatures, rain and frequent fogs to the land nearby. Summers are hot and dry . Maritime pine was once planted on sand dunes in France to keep the dunes from covering nearby farm land. The planting, begun in 1789, was continued until nearly two million acres of Maritime pine forest was created, the largest man-made forest in the world.
10. Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)
Scientists believe pine trees have been around for a very long time. Once dinosaurs roamed the earth beneath vast forests of ancient pine trees. Some of the pine rosin dripping from wounds in these prehistoric trees became petrified (turned to stone) over many years. We call it amber and make it into jewelry today. These Austrian pines are under attack by a fungus called Diplodia. Can you see pine rosin on some of the twigs and needles? Pine tree wounds do not heal. The tree mearly seals the wound off with rosin, creating a record of the injury inside the tree after wood grows over the spot.
11. Georgia's Native Pines
There are more than 100 species (types) of pine trees in the world. All except one grow naturally in the northern hemisphere. Georgia has 11 species of pines. Thompson Mills Forest and State Arboretum is perhaps the only place where you can see all 11 Georgia pines growing together on the hill in front of you. Get to know them if you have time. It is a unique opportunity.
- Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
- Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)
- Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)
- Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)
- Pond Pine (Pinus serotina)
- Sand Pine (Pinus clausa)
- Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii)
- Spruce Pine (Pinus glabra)
- Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata)
- Table Mountain Pine (Pinus pungens)
- Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana)
Thanks for visiting the Pinetum. We hope you enjoyed exploring the world of pine trees and learning some interesting facts about these valuable trees. Please return your brochure to the brochure box unless you wish to keep it. Have a great day.