The state of Arkansas is relatively small and officially is classified as having a humid subtropical climate, with hot humid summers and relatively mild winters, with no specific dry season.
The northeast of the state is classified as humid continental. The proximity to the plains to the west and the Gulf of Mexico to the south all play a role in the climate of the state, whose USDA zones extend from 6 to 8.
With more the 9,000 miles of hiking trails and two national forests, there are plenty of areas for nature lovers to enjoy.
Whilst Oaks and Hickorys dominate the native forests, Pines are also abundant and hold a special enough place to be named the state tree in 1939.
5 Pine Trees That Grow Well In Arkansas
1. Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
The Eastern White Pine is the tallest native conifer in the northeastern states and is capable of reaching heights of up to 150 ft tall with a trunk diameter of between 2-4 ft. It has a pyramidal form and layered rings of branches that give the tree pleasing symmetry.
Like most kinds of Pine, every part of the Eastern White Pine is useful. The needles of the eastern white pine have more Vitamin C than oranges and lemons.
The Eastern White Pine is a hardy and robust tree, whose soft green/blue needles form in clusters. The Eastern White Pine is perhaps the best landscape pine in the state and is ideal as a screen or a windbreak.
It’s best suited to the wet, upland parts of the state; being poorly suited to the heat and wet soil of the south.
Other Common Names: White Pine, Northern White Pine, Weymouth Pine
Growing Zones: 3-7
Average Size at Maturity: 50-80 ft tall and 20-40 ft wide
Flowering Season: Monoecious (male and female) cones are produced on each tree in May – June
2. Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) – Arkansas State Tree
The Loblolly Pine is the Arkansas state tree as it not only grows over a large area of the state but is also a valuable timber species.
In all the 14 states it grows in, its range is defined by the extent of the coastal plain. Loblolly Pine forms three-needle clusters that reach 5-8 inches long and are dark green/red-brown. They produce cones that are 3-6 inches in length.
Loblolly pines are fast-growing and their lower limbs are intolerant of shade and drop when young. Grown in the open they retain a pyramidal shape with the lower limbs eventually falling off, which makes them useful as shade trees in the home landscape.
In the wild, they are mostly found in swamps and lowlands. Arkansas is home to one of the oldest Loblolly Pines, reportedly over 300 years old with a height of 117 ft.
The quick growth rate of this pine has made it popular as a living screen. They are tolerant of a wide variety of soils, some moisture, flooding, and drought.
The loblolly also produces shelter and food for a wide variety of native wildlife.
Other Common Names: Oldfield Pine, Bull Pine, Rosemary Pine
Growing Zones: 6-9
Average Size at Maturity: 60-90 ft tall and 25-35 ft wide
Flowering Season: Spring
3. Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)
The Longleaf Pine is a native evergreen conifer with the longest leaves of all the eastern pine species. The needle-like leaves grow in clusters of three and grow to be up to 18 inches long. Mature trees can be tall and stately and have become a cultural symbol of the South. The Longleaf Pine is the state tree of Alabama.
The single trunk is covered in a thick scaly bark and can reach a diameter of 3 feet. Longleaf Pines naturally shed their lower branches, giving them an upright habit. This means homeowners who want to grow these trees will need to invest little maintenance in their upkeep to ensure they don’t fall and cause any damage.
The wood and roots are resinous and as such don’t rot, making removing the tree a task should you decide to do so.
Longleaf pines prefer sandy, dry acidic soils, and their natural range extends from sea level to 2,300 ft elevation. They are intolerant of shade.
Other Common Names: Long-Leaf Pine, Southern Pine
Growing Zones: 7b-10
Average Size at Maturity: 60-80 ft tall and 30-40 ft wide
Flowering Season: Spring
4. Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata)
The Shortleaf Pine is native to the eastern parts of the country and has the widest distribution of any southern pine species.
It’s a large tree with a broad and open crown. It has short spreading branches, forming a pyramidal shape as it ages. The needles of the shortleaf pine grow in clusters of 2-3 and are bright green, measuring 3-5” long.
Mature Shortleaf Pines develop attractive brown-reddish plates on their trunks, giving them added visual interest in the landscape. It’s the hardiest and most adaptable of all the southern pines and can be found in rocky uplands and wet floodplains.
It’s a fairly slow-growing species and is very drought tolerant.
Other Common Names: Arkansas Pine, Shortleaf Yellow Pine, Yellow Pine, Longtag Pine, Spruce Pine, Oldfield Pine, Shoestraw Pine
Growing Zones: 6-9
Average Size at Maturity: 50-60 ft tall and 20-35 ft wide
Flowering Season: February and March
5. Slash Pine (Pinus elliotti)
The Slash Pine is thought to be a distant relative of the Longleaf and Loblolly Pines and is generally shorter in stature and shorter-lived than its relatives. It’s an attractive tree with a pyramidal shape when young, creating an open, rounded canopy that allows in dappled light.
In the wild, it prefers swampy ground and will grow in an acidic environment in full sun or partial shade. Once established, it’s more tolerant of wet sites than other pines and is moderately salt-tolerant.
The lower, shaded branches fall off with age, so this should be remembered when planting. The Slash Pine is gaining popularity in the landscaping world due to its large, stately form and rapid growth. The 6” cones appear nestled amongst the 6-12” long needles.
The red-brown bark is deeply furrowed, and squirrels and wild turkeys are particularly fond of the seeds.
Other Common Names: Swamp Pine, Cuban Pine, Yellow Slash Pine, Southern Pine, Pitch Pine
Growing Zones: 8-10
Average Size at Maturity: 75-100 ft tall and 30-50 ft wide
Flowering Season: December, January, February
The state of Arkansas has a variety of landscapes and topography, some of which include native habitats for various kinds of pine trees.
AR is an outdoor lovers’ paradise, with plenty of opportunities for enjoying majestic pines in their natural habitat or for planting them in your yard, should you have the space for them.
If you are looking for something with a bit more color and some stunning flowers then you should read our post on the most popular flowering trees in Arkansas.
- 8 Top Trees Native to Arkansas to Consider Planting Today
- 10 Fruit Trees to Grow in Arkansas (Including Native)
- 20 Most Popular Flowering Trees in Arkansas
- Pine Trees in Arkansas: 5 Varieties That Grow In This State
Thomas worked for a number of years as the head of plant propagation for a horticultural contractor taking care of many different species of ornamental trees & shrubs. He learned how to propagate certain endangered endemic species and has a love of permaculture, sustainability and conscious living. When Thomas isn’t hiking in nature he can be found playing music, reading a book, or eating fruit under a tree.