A slow-growing species compared to other pines, shortleaf pine begins its life as a semi-shade tolerant species capable of establishing itself under sparse competition. Demonstrating a consistent diameter growth pattern in some of its range, shortleaf pine will maintain itself in a stand once reaching the dominant or codominant crown canopy position. Shortleaf pine is susceptible to littleleaf disease in flood-prone areas, but it does show the most resilience to ice with respect to other southern pines.
Shortleaf pine characteristics include:
Development of a deep taproot early in its life cycle. This adaptation allows the species to flourish on poor sites;
Historically, this taproot was harvested for pulpwood while the upper stem was marketed as saw timber;
Today, the species is still a saw timber commodity and due to its tight, dense wood and lack of taper, it is ideal for the log home industry;
As individuals reach biological maturity, they become excellent cavity trees for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, and in mixed hardwood stands, shortleaf pine provides winter protection for many small birds and mammals.