By Steven Case
Government & Heritage Library, 2011
The pine was officially designated as the State Tree by the General Assembly of 1963. (Session Laws, 1963, c. 41).
As early as 1959, the Garden Clubs of North Carolina had begun a campaign to name a state tree. At their 1962 meeting, a poll was circulated to the various member clubs, and the pine was the first choice.
Being both fast growing and well adapted to sandy or acidic soil, the pine has become ubiquitous throughout the state. Land cleared for homesteading or farming was often deliberately replanted with pine, or allowed to revert to forest, with the opportunistic pine easily replacing other vegetation.
Pine is perhaps the most important type of wood in the construction industry, providing up to half of lumber and wood products required by the industry. Naval stores—turpentine, pitch, rosin, and tar—were also harvested from the great pine forests, and, up until the 1860s, North Carolina provided the bulk of these supplies to US markets.
Despite popular belief, no single species of pine is designated as the official tree of North Carolina. Many people believe that the longleaf pine is the state tree; indeed, many websites still list this species as one of North Carolina’s official symbols. This is probably due to the State Toast, which begins “Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine….” However, with eight species native to North Carolina (eastern white, loblolly, longleaf, pitch, pond, shortleaf, table mountain, and virginia), the 1963 legislature decided not to favor one at the expense of the other seven.
Nine other states (Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, and New Mexico) have also designated the pine or a species of pine as their official state tree.
Session Laws, 1963, c. 41:
H. B. 10 CHAPTER 41
AN ACT TO ADOPT AN OFFICIAL STATE TREE FOR THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA.
WHEREAS, the Pine is prevalent, in one of its eight species, in all parts of this State, and is truly representative of the State's historic dependence upon and concern for its timber and forest resources; and
WHEREAS, there is great demand from all parts of the State that this Legislature adopt an official State tree; and
WHEREAS, the Garden Clubs of North Carolina have conducted a State-wide survey for preference for a State tree, and the Pine was selected by a decided majority of the votes; Now, therefore,
The General Assembly of North Carolina do enact:
Section 1. The Pine is hereby adopted as the official State tree of the State of North Carolina.
Sec. 2. All laws and clauses of laws in conflict with this Act are hereby repealed.
Sec. 3. This Act shall be in full force and effect from and after its ratification.
In the General Assembly read three times and ratified, this the 12th day of March, 1963.
References and additional resources:
Common Forest Trees of North Carolina (From the NC Division of Forest Resources)
Krugman, Stanley L.; Jenkinson, James L. 1974. Pinus L. Pine. In: Seeds of woody plants in the United States. C. S. Schopmeyer, tech. coord. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Handbook 450. Washington, DC: p. 598-638.
"N.C. has no state tree as yet," Burlington Times-News, Sept. 13, 1961, p 7A.
North Carolina Forests, 2002 (19.5 MB, from the USDA)
"Pine tree bill OK'd," News and Observer (Raleigh), Feb. 27, 1963.
"Pine tree now statehood symbol in 10 states," News and Observer (Raleigh), Mar. 15, 1963, p. 11.
Powell, William Stevens, and Jay Mazzocchi. 2006. Encyclopedia of North Carolina.. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 783-784; 887.
Resources in Worldcat
1 June 2007 | Case, Steven