Southern Yellow Pine (often referred to as SYP) is a designated group of four species growing in the Southern United States.
The four species are:
- Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata)
- Slash Pine (Pinus ellioti)
- Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)
- Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda).
All share similar characteristics such as high density and an abrupt earlywood to latewood transition which gives them a distinct grain pattern. Microscopically they are difficult to differentiate; hence, they are grouped together.
Southern Yellow Pine is endemic to the southeast United States from Massachusetts south to Florida, and from Texas east to the Atlantic Ocean. They reach average heights of 115 feet with average diameters approaching 3 feet. Trees with heights of 160 feet and diameters of 5 feet have been reported. The tree is known for producing lumber with tight sound knots along with considerable amounts of clear wood.
Historically, Longleaf Pine was the desired species to be cut into lumber. Slow growing, it produced wood with very tight grow rings. It also grew large enough to create a heart with a distinct reddish brown hue. Longleaf Pine was utilised in all manner of structural applications. The tight growth rings yielded a very strong and dense wood that makes a very beautiful floor. Unfortunately, stocks all but ran out around the 1900’s and the Longleaf Pine is now considered a vulnerable species and is not commonly available. This beautiful wood can only be purchased today as reclaimed material from buildings or from salvaged logs from river bottoms.
Loblolly Pine is now the industry favourite. Fast growing, it is almost all sap wood. It’s also amenable for growing in tree plantations. Loblolly Pine is the second most common tree species in the United States after the Red Maple and it is the preferred species for pressure treated lumber.