What's In A Name?
Source for this
By: John P. McGuire, From Longleaf Alliance Newsletter,
Vol. 7, No. 1
Although over the decades, longleaf pine has assumed many
different common names, the scientific name Pinus palustris Mill.
has been (for the most part) consistently used by foresters and botanists
since its nomenclatural dating in the mid 18th century. Philip Miller,
superintendent of the
Physic Garden and British author of a series of widely used and
authoritative horticultural dictionaries, first defined longleaf pine in
Mill. Gard. Dict. Ed. 3, iii. Sp. No. 19 (1737) as:
19. Pinus Americana palustris patula, longissimis & viridibus setis.
Marsh spreading American Pine, with the longest green Leaves (foliis
By 1768, Miller had shortened the epithet of longleaf pine to its
present form of Pinus palustris. Passages and illustrations in
Miller's dictionary seem to credibly support the identification of
longleaf pine, while others have proved to be confounding. Miller
describes longleaf as the "pine tree with the longest leaves growing by
threes out of each sheath" and "their leaves are a foot or more in length,
growing in tufts at the end of the branches". However, certain accounts in
Miller's dictionary have lead others to believe that he in fact was
describing the foliage specimen of loblolly pine (P. taeda L).
The most obvious folly in Miller's description of longleaf pine is that
he states it "grows naturally on low moist boggy places, and will not
thrive on a dry soil." Pinus palustris translates literally to
"swamp pine". Although many historical photographs of virgin longleaf pine
forests show that longleaf pine clearly was not confined to upland areas,
swampy bottomlands were certainly not its preferred habitat. Webster's
dictionary defines loblolly as a "muddy puddle". During the time when fire
moved freely across the southern landscape (stopped only by streams and
swamps), loblolly pine was likely the pine species found in those swampy
areas where frequent fire was not present. More then likely, Miller was
simply an "armchair botanist" whose description of longleaf pine's habitat
was based merely on hearsay or misinformation from colleagues.
In 1796 R.A. Salisbury felt that Pinus longifolia Salis was a
more appropriate nomenclature for longleaf pine then that given by Miller
and pushed for its acceptance. However, Article 63 of the International
Code of Botanical Nomenclature prevents the renaming of species for
"superfluous" reasons, and thus Salisbury renaming attempt of longleaf
pine was rejected.
For a period of time, a gathering of botanists felt that F.A. Michaux
should be credited with first describing longleaf pine as Pinus
australis Michx. f. Hist. Arb. Am. I. 64, pl. 6 (1810). Based on the
articulate written definition and clear illustrations of longleaf pine,
these botanists felt that Michaux was, in fact, discovering a species of
pine completely different from that of Miller. However, it is doubtful
that Michaux was defining a different species then Miller. Michaux was, in
fact, merely giving longleaf pine an epithet that he felt was more
appropriate: "I have thought likewise that the specific name 'australis'
was preferable to that of 'palustris', under which this species has been
described by botanists; for this last gives an absolutely false idea of
the nature of the soil where this tree grows." Pinus australis
translates to "southern pine". Michaux's naming of longleaf pine was also
In more modern times, longleaf pine has suffered further identity
crisis. Today, many simply lump longleaf pine as "southern pine" or
"yellow pine"-no different from other southern pines. From a tree once
recognized worldwide for its beauty and timber value, to one of near
anonymity. The loss of longleaf pine has been more than that of simply
Common Names for Longleaf Pine: American pitch pine, Amerikaanse,
pitchpine, Bogalusa pine, broom pine, brown pine, Calcasieu pine, fat
pine, figured-tree, Florida longleaf pine, Florida pine, Florida yellow
pine, Georgia heart pine, Georgia longleaf pine, Georgia pine, Georgia
pitch pine, Georgia yellow pine, Gulf Coast pitch pine, hard pine, heart
pine, hill pine, high pine, langbarrig tall, longleaf, longleaf pine,
long-leaf pitch pine, longleaf yellow pine, longleaved pitch pine,
longstraw pine, madera pino, moeras-pijn, North Carolina pitch pine,
palustris pine, pin de Boston, pin des marais, pino del sur, pino giallo,
pino grasso, pino palustre, pino pantano, pino, pece, pino tea, pino tea
roja, pitch pine, pitchpin, pitchpin americain, red pine, Rosemary pine,
Sabine pine, soderns gul-all, southern hard pine, southern heart pine,
southern pine, southern pitch pine, southern yellow pine, sump-all, sumpf
kiefer, sydstaternas gul-tall, tea pine, Texas longleaf pine, Texas yellow
pine, turpentine pine, yellow pine.
Fernald, M.L. (1948) The confused bases of the name Pinus palustris.
Rhodora 50: 241-249.
Little, E.L. (1948) Notes on nomenclature of trees. Phytologia 2:
Minter, Sue (2001) The Apothecaries Garden - A History of the Chelsea
Physic Garden. Sutton Publishing. 210 pages
Ward, D.B. (1974) On the scientific name of the longleaf pine. Rhodora
Antique Heart Pine:
History of the name: Longleaf