Finding Longleaf Pine in American History

Featured Image: Healthy longleaf pine forest in the sandhills of North Carolina. Photo by author.

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Editor’s NoteThis post is the second in the “Seeds: New Research in Environmental History” series cosponsored by NiCHE and Edge Effects, highlighting the work of members of the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) Graduate Student Caucus. This series serves to highlight new work being done in the field of environmental history and connect this research to other fields and contemporary issues. Graduate caucus members were asked to respond to the following questions: ““How does your work push at the boundaries of current literature and add to existing discussions of the environment/environmental history? What forces drive your research?” 

All environmental history graduate students are encouraged to join the caucus by contacting current student liaison, Rachel Gross, at rsgross@wisc.edu. 

As I turned off U.S. Highway 1 onto roads made of sand in the town of Hoffman, North Carolina, I rolled my windows down and began taking in the sights and sounds of the longleaf forest. Skinny, tall trees lacking lower branches seemed to stretch on forever. Though I was only a few miles off the main road, I felt utterly isolated in the sea of widely-spaced trees with breezes moving through the canopy. The smell of pine in the hot summer sun reminded me camping when I was child and of the farm my family owned in Virginia. Pine trees of various types can be seen throughout North Carolina. But when you enter the region known as the Sandhills, suddenly pine trees with pom-pom like structures and beautiful elongated needles appear everywhere. Pinus palustris, or longleaf pine, thrive in this region of sandy, porous soil. Entities ranging from The Nature Conservancy to North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Army protect large reserves of the trees. Local towns note the significance of longleaf with names such as Pinehurst, Pinebluff, Whispering Pines, and Southern Pines.

Read the rest of this article at Edge Effects here >>

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Stacy Roberts

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