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What Is the State Tree of Arkansas? How Was It Decided?

loblolly pine tree in wet lands

Knowing what the state tree of Arkansas is and how this tree was selected can tell you a lot about the ecology and history of your home state. As The Natural State, Arkansas has a huge variety of trees across the state, so there are a number of trees that could have been selected to serve as the state tree.

Let’s talk about what the state tree of Arkansas is and how it was chosen so you can learn more about the natural history of your state.

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What Is the State Tree of Arkansas?

The state tree of Arkansas was selected in 1939, and the loblolly pine tree was chosen. This tree is important for its use as timber, and its native range extends from Texas in the south to New Jersey in the north. You may also see this tree referred to as a southern yellow pine within the timber industry.

Loblolly pines exist in large numbers along coastal plains. If you’re thinking to yourself that Arkansas, a landlocked state, has no coastal plains, you’d be wrong. Arkansas is home to ancient coastlines, which are packed with fossils. It’s likely that the calcium deposits from these fossils along these ancient coastal plains are the reason these trees inhabit these areas in large numbers.

tall loblolly pine trees
Image Credit: Sierra Tango, Shutterstock

These trees usually grow to 50–70 feet in height, although it’s not uncommon for them to exceed 100 feet if left to grow instead of being used for timber. They are three-needle pines, and their needles can reach up to 8 inches in length. They tend to grow in a pyramid shape but will often drop their lower branches once they experience too much shade. Loblolly pines are prolific trees that account for a huge portion of the pine trees in the state.

How Was the Loblolly Pine Chosen?

In 1939, the loblolly pine tree was selected as the Arkansas state tree because of its importance as a timber tree. This tree not only represented the timber industry that thrived in Arkansas, but it also represented the state’s reforestation efforts that had begun in an attempt to preserve native species and better manage land and resource usage.

The loblolly pine is one of four native pine species in the state, but it is often considered to be the most prolific. It’s also treasured for timber usage because of its overall lack of knobs, rapid growth rate, and high rate of reproduction.

tree planting
Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

The loblolly pine is the state tree of Arkansas, and it was selected because of its status as an important native timber tree. It not only produces excellent timber wood, but the loblolly pine grows quickly and reproduces prolifically, so it has proven itself to be a sustainable timber option. This tree is one of four native pine species in the state, and it exists in large numbers across the entirety of the state, although it seems to be most numerous in the Ozarks.


Featured Image Credit: Rob Jump, Shutterstock

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