Adaptations of Virginia Trees

Loblolly Pine

Seed dispersal- Loblolly pine produces a winged seed that is adapted for wind dispersal. The wing carries the seed away from the tree where it hopefully will land on mineral soil and in full sunlight, conditions that it requires for germination. Seeds are located between the scales in a pinecone. As the cone matures, the scales open, and seeds are released into the wind.

Pollination- Loblolly pine is adapted for wind pollination. Its pollen is light and is produced in large amounts. Pollen ripens early in the growing season when conditions are best for wind transport. To observe the copious amounts of pollen, flick a male flower with your finger and watch the waft of yellow pollen release into the air.

Fire- Loblolly pine has thick bark that enables it to survive ground fires. This adaptation benefits loblolly because many competing trees are less well adapted to fire and are killed. Foresters use prescribed fires to take advantage of this adaptation.

Defense- Loblolly pine produces resin to protect itself from injury, a behavioral adaptation that repels insects, particularly the southern pine beetle. Also known as “pine sap,” resin flows to any point of injury, drowning or repelling the intruder, and protecting the area from further injury.

Light- Loblolly pine is a fast grower, meaning it has a high photosynthetic rate, a behavioral adaptation to full sun conditions. It is classified as intolerant of shade, which means it must have full sunlight in order to survive. Because of its intolerance for shade, foresters use clear cutting to regenerate tulip tree.

Moisture- Loblolly pine needles are highly adapted to conserving moisture. The hard covering of a pine needle prevents water from evaporating through the surface of the leaf, which make pine trees generally more water-use efficient than broad-leaved trees. Pines also have sunken stomata, which means the openings in the leaf are not directly exposed to wind. This allows pine needles to get CO2 from the atmosphere without losing too much water during the process of photosynthesis.

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