Pines Suitable for Southwest Missouri
The indigenous shortleaf pine belt of Missouri, before its destruction by European immigrants in the two decades before and after 1900, covered a four to six million acre area which was east of the Springfield Plateau and south of (and including part of) the Salem Plateau. This is approximately the east-central one-fourth of the southern one-third of the state. This includes about half of the physiographic division known as the Ozarks. Early descriptions (esp. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft) indicate that the Springfield Plateau was oak-hickory savannah, gradually transitioning to prairie further west. The Pearson Creek Unit of the Lovett Pinetum is situated in the mid-Springfield Plateau, which illustrates the indigenous pine growth is not a prerequisite for successful pine culture. In fact, the area is well adapted to growing a large number of pine species.
Missouri Indigenous Shortleaf Pine Distribution (courtesy of The Nature Conservancy of Missouri) (Yellow= Mixed Oak-Pine; Green= Shortleaf Pine Only)
The climate in this area is classified as Koppen type Cfa (the letters respectively indicate: C = coldest month average temperature between 27 degrees F. and 65 degrees F.; f = sufficient precipitation each month; a = warmest month average temperature above 72 degrees F.). This certainly imposes no difficulty for pine culture. However, some limitation does arise from our mid-continental location and moderately cold winters, indicated by the U.S.D.A. Hardiness Zone of 6a (average wintertime low temperature of -5 to -10 degrees F.). This is probably the single most limiting factor in the number of pine species viable on a long-term basis here. Further south (i.e., Arkansas and East Texas) of here, a greater number of pine species can survive. The hardiness zone given for a given species is often more of an opinion than a fact, but most (not all) trees classified zone 8 or higher will ultimately die here in the winter. Summertime high temperatures and high humidity promote foliar fungus diseases which are the second limiting factor for the number of pines that can be grown in southwest Missouri.
Soils over either limestone or sandstone bedrock are suitable, but most pines prefer the well-drained sandy soils. Site suitability is essential but also has significant unpredictability, so there is no wisdom that will ever completely replace the trial and error approach. Generally, it is better in the long-term to select a site that is on the dry side and requires watering for the first few years over a wetter site, even though early growth rates may be better in the latter. Early rapid growth is not well correlated with long-term success.
North American pine trees suitable for southwest Missouri classified on the experience of the Lovett Pinetum, are:
- Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata)
- Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
- Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)
- Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)
- Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana)
- Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) — has shallow roots and therefore susceptible to uprooting from wind and ice storms, also susceptible to pine wilt nematode. A good tree for a short period (~ 20 year)
- Southwestern White Pine (Pinus strobiformis) — this pine has amazing limb strength and resists ice storm damage more than any other pine species.
- Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)
- Pond Pine (Pinus serotina) — younger trees usually require external support to remain upright.
- Table Mountain Pine (Pinus pungens) — some tend to assume a prostrate habit, also their branches break with heavy snow loads.
B. Not So Easy
- Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) — has good initial growth but has many problems later; not really practical for southwest Missouri.
- Washoe Pine (Pinus washoensis) — slow initial growth; possible needlecast problems.
- Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata) — slow grower, susceptible to foliar diseases, site selection is critical, long-term survival is questionble.
- Colorado Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis) — slow grower.
- Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis) — slow grower, problems with needlecast and probably not a long term survivor.
- Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) — slow start; long “grass” stage; suprisingly winter hardy; ice storms cause major damage.
- Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) – susceptible to needlecast disease but we have found invividuals, through much trial and error, that appear resistant enough to grow into mature trees.
- Papershell Pinyon Pine (Pinus remota) — slow start; so far a very satisfactory tree in southwest Missouri.
- Spruce Pine (Pinus glabra) — winter stress, as expected for a zone 8 tree, but some survive.
C. Not recommended:
- Arizona Pine (Pinus arizonica stormiae)
- Knobcone Pine (Pinus attenuata) – fungal needle diseases.
- Foxtail Pine (Pinus balfouriana)
- Chiapas Pine (Pinus chiapensis)
- Durango Pine (Pinus durangensis)
- Gregg Pine (Pinus greggii)
- Mexican Red Pine (Pinus hartwegii) — winter stressed.
- Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana)
- Smooth-leaf Pine (Pinus leiophylla)
- Intermountain Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva)
- Big cone Pinyon Pine (Pinus maximartinezii)
- Western White Pine (Pinus monticola)
- Bishop Pine (Pinus muricata)
- Smooth-bark Mexican Pine (Pinus pseudostrobus)
- Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana)
- Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata)
- Slash Pine (Pinus elliotii elliotii) — winter kill; all are dead.
- Mexican Weeping Pine (Pinus patula) — winter kill; all are dead.
- Mexican Pinyon Pine (Pinus cembroides) — probably too moist.
- Singleleaf Pinyon Pine (Pinus monophylla) — probably too moist.
- Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) — probably too moist.
- Mexican Limber Pine (Pinus ayachuite) — probably winter kill.
- Apache Pine (Pinus engelmannii) — winter kill; all are dead.
- Coulter Pine (Pinus coulteri) — winter kill; all are dead.
- Sand Pine (Pinus clausa) — probably winter kill
- Pince Pine (Pinus pinceana) — winter kill; all are dead
- Oaxacana Pine (Pinus oaxacana) — probably winter kill
- Montezeuma Pine (Pinus montezeuma) — probably winter kill
- Nelson Pine (Pinus nelsonii) — probably winter kill
- Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi) — will grow but is highly susceptible to foliar diseases and will not survive long term without frequent spraying.
- Gray Pine (Pinus sabiniana) — hard to get started and needlecast problems; not recommended.
- Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris) – almost always dies due to infestation with the pine wilt nematode.
These first four are all deciduous conifers.
- Golden Larch (Pseudolarix amabilis) – Beautiful!
- Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)
- Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum)
- Tamarack (Larix laricina)
- Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
- Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)
- Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
- Manchurian Fir (Abies holophylla) (plenty of shade & wet)
- Sawara Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera)
- Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa)
- Nootka Cypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis)