The spruce pine is known by various names, including the Walter pine, bottom white pine and cedar pine. It is a medium-size tree with brittle wood that prefers swamps and river valleys. Because the wood is so brittle, it has limited commercial use. The spruce pine is popular on the southern Coastal Plain-from the lower Santee River in eastern South Carolina to northwest Florida.
Cones and Seeds
The spruce pine produces cones during its 10th year, but produces the most cones between ages 20 and 40. The pollen cones grow on the weaker branches, and below the seed cones. The cones first appear in February and March--the farther north the tree is located, the later in March the cones first appear. The cones mature in their second year-during September and October. Seeds are not released until November.
The seedlings prefer the shade of other pines and hardwoods, and do not grow well in sun to full sun (full sun is at least six hours of continuous sunlight per day). The seedling is susceptible to high winds if not in a protected area, as the taproot forms near the surface, then, as the seedling ages, the taproot penetrates deeper into the soil.
The spruce pine prefers sandy loam that is acidic and has a high organic matter content. It prefers poorly drained soil and areas with a high water table. As long as the spruce pine is on a rich hummock or a stream bank, it does not need to be fertilized.
The spruce pine reaches up to 125 feet in height, and is not fully grown until it is 60 to 75 years old. If the spruce pine is in a stand of spruce pines, it might reach a height of 50 to 60 feet in height. Eighty percent of the standing volume of spruce pine is found in southern Alabama and Mississippi.
Pests and Disease
The spruce pine is not susceptible to pest and disease damage, as it is usually does not grow in stands. This makes it difficult for pests and diseases to spread from tree to tree. If planted outside its native range, it is susceptible to Cronartium comandrae and the Nantucket pine tip moth.