Southern Yellow Pine Flooring

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At Zeagler Farms we use southern yellow pine for our five styles of wide plank flooring shown above. Tree names can sometimes be confusing, and the purpose of this page is to bring some clarity to the terms Southern Pine and Southern Yellow Pine. Part of the reason for confusion is that some names refer to a single species, while others refer to a variety of species. Some folks refer to "pine trees" like pine is a single species - It isn't. Scientists can't even agree on how many species there are, with the numbers running from a low of 105 to a high of 125. Ten different species are native to the southeastern United States, and any of these species can be properly referred to as "Southern Pine". These include:

Eastern White Pine

The natural range of Eastern White Pine includes the northeastern United States, and extends into Canada, the Midwest and as far south as Georgia. It is relatively soft, but it is quite common which makes it is inexpensive, and easy to work because of its softness. When the American colonies were being settled, the British would pick out the largest and sturdiest white pines from the virgin forest to make the masts for their sailing ships. In colonial times it was used for all types of constuction, even flooring. In the second half of the nineteenth century, it lost favor for flooring, since it showed wear after extended use due to its softness. George Washington was abit of a visionary in this regard. He realized that Southern Yellow Pine was much harder and a better choice, so he used it for his flooring at Mount Vernon.

Eastern white pine is still widely used for lumber. Today, the vast majority of it is plantation grown. It's great for many applications because it easy to cut, sand, drill, etc. Lumber mills like the fact that they don't have to saw it into boards right away. Many hardwoods need to be cut into boards shortly after felling or they will develop cracks. It is the state tree for Michigan and Maine.

Southern Yellow Pine

Heartwood - Sapwood Southern Yellow Pine (sometimes abbreviated SYP) refers to several species, including loblolly pine, longleaf pine, shortleaf pine & slash pine. Zeagler Farms uses longleaf pine for our Driftwood, Old World and Wire Brushed styles, and loblolly pine for our Oyster Shell and Rustic styles. These species grow primarily in the coastal states from Virginia to Texas. Southern yellow pine is the state tree of North Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas. Because of its golden color, beautiful grain and hardness (It's about twice as hard as Eastern White Pine), Southern yellow pine is often used for flooring today. Like Eastern White Pine, it was also used for masts on sailing ships.

Over half the pine in the southern United States is Loblolly Pine. Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as "King Pine." It's about 80% harder than Eastern White Pine. Loblolly Pine doesn't tolerate shade, but otherwise it is adaptable and easy to grow. It can also be harvested at a younger age than most pines. The most famous Loblolly Pine was located along the seventeenth fairway at Augusta National Country Club. It was known as the "Eisenhower Tree" because he hit it so often. In 1956, while he was in the White House, Ike suggested at a club meeting that the tree be cut down. The club chairman was appalled by the idea, but didn't want to vote down the President's idea. Therefore he immediately adjourned the meeting. In early 2014 Ike's wish finally came true. An ice storm caused severe damage to the tree, and the club reluctantly decided to remove it. Zeagler Farms uses Loblolly Pine for its Rustic & Oyster Shell wide plank flooring styles.

Longleaf Pine was the dominant pine species in the southeast prior to European settlement. Since then 60 million acres of Longleaf Pine has dwindled to 4 million acres. Longleaf Pine is the hardest of the Southern Pines, about 25% harder than Loblolly Pine. It is slower growing, however, and therefore is not grown commercially nearly as much. When its seeds germinate, Longleaf Pine spends some time in a "Grass stage", during which it has virtually no stem. An organization called The Longleaf Alliance was established in 1995 to promote management and restoration of Longleaf Pine forests. Zeagler Farms uses Longleaf Pine for its Old world, Wire Brushed and Driftwood styles.

Shortleaf Pine tends to have trunks with little taper, which makes its timber ideal for use in log homes. Slash Pine has a relatively small natural range, which includes Florida, as well as the southermost portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. It is often tapped for its resin, which can be distilled to create turpentine.

Pitch, Pond, Sand, Table Mountain & Virginia Pines

These pines generally produce low quality timber. They are excellent at restoring areas with poor soil, especially those that contain spoil from mining operations. These pioneer species can be used to reclaim bare areas. As they grow, shed their needles and eventually die, they build up the organic matter in the soil. Eventually the ground is able to support other species that cannot grow in poorer soils.

Heart Pine

Heartwood - Sapwood Mature trees trees have sapwood and heartwood. In the image to the left, the heartwood is the darker colored wood in the center, while the sapwood is the lighter colored wood on the outside. The sapwood is the living wood, which is where sap flows. The sapwood transports water upward from the roots. As new growth rings are added to the tree each year, the wood in the center essentially becomes dead, and no longer performs this function. At this point it becomes heartwood. The term Heart Pine can be used to describe heartwood from any southern pine.

When Europeans first came to America, there were pine trees hundreds of years old in the virgin forests. These old pines had a lot of heartwood, which early settlers put to good use on many construction projects. Today some of that old pine heartwood is being reclaimed and reused. This wood is sometimes called "Antique Heart Pine".
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