A pine tree is characterized by its thick and scaly grayish bark, straight trunk, long pointed green needles and cones as a seed. If you have ever had the opportunity to walk through a pine forest you will certainly not miss the clean and fresh scent coming from the resin of this species that retains its foliage throughout the year.
Belonging to the family Pinaceae, there are numerous species ranging from 105 to 125 that are accepted by different authorities. They grow up to 80 meters in height and thrive in temperate and subtropical climates. Native in the northern hemisphere, they are known as northern or eastern white pine wood.
On the eastern region of the United States, yellow pines flourish all across Georgia, Mississippi, Indiana, Tennessee and Alabama as well as Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Florida in the south. Some varieties include Longleaf, Shortleaf, Loblolly and Slash. The beautiful Virginia Pine (Pinus Virginiana) is quite distinct with its yellowish twisted needles and very popularly used as a Christmas tree.
Apart from its ornamental role in gardens and parks, the pine tree is versatile and commercially cultivated for numerous uses. The conifer pine cone is very durable and widely used in handicraft projects. Pine needles can be made into various forms of basketry, a skill which was developed by Native Americans and now imitated in other countries.
Pine species with large seeds like the Pinus Sibirica and Pinus Koraiensis produce pine nuts which can be used for baking and cooking purposes especially in pesto recipes and gluten free meals. The inner bark of a pine tree is rich in vitamins and can be eaten raw or dried and ground into flour. Turpentine can be made from the sap of a pine tree and chipped pine processed into paper with the bark used as fuel for pulp mills.
Why is the Yellow Pine so distinctive and popular? As the name suggests, the southern yellow pine is yellowish in color and recognized by its even texture and straight grain. The small and tight knots give the signature rustic and bulls-eye appearance. In comparison with other types of wood or composite material, yellow pine is cheaper, easily available and more comfortable underfoot during warm weather conditions. Many prefer to use it in construction because of its dimensional stability and load bearing capacity.
For applications with decks, gazebos and outdoor furniture, the southern yellow pines are impregnated with copper or zinc napathane to prevent damages and increase resistance against rot, rain and insects. In the pressure treatment process, the lumber is placed in a pressure chamber with the preservative fluids where these compounds are forced deeply into the core of the pine strands.
Being constantly exposed to the elements, the pine is affected by changes in temperature and humidity levels. Defects such as knots, cracks and splits are natural occurrences and to most people these natural flaws enhances its beauty and uniqueness, very much like a handmade piece of garment.
The fact that this wood contains earth friendly properties eliminates the pollution that is produced when other building materials are used. For the environmentally conscious consumer, southern pinewood is a clear favorite because it can be regenerated very quickly, making it a sustainable resource for generations to come.