Adopted as the state tree in 1963, the pine tree grows in all 100 North Carolina counties yet is most extensive in the eastern counties. The state contains a variety of pines, including the loblolly, eastern white, and the table mountain pine, but the state’s most known pine tree might be the long leaf pine—the one mentioned in the state’s toast and the one that became the raw material for the naval stores industry.
Many visitors have described the numerous pines of North Carolina. Early English explorers mentioned the abundance of pines, writes historian William S. Powell, that were “suitable for the production of tar and pitch for the English navy.” By the Civil War, North Carolina pines enabled the state to produce approximately two-thirds of the nation’s turpentine.
Today, organizations such as the LongLeaf Alliance are working to preserve pines and restore some of the Southeast’s once widespread pine ecosystem.
William S. Powell, ed., The Encyclopedia of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 2006) and North Carolina Through Four Centuries (Chapel Hill, 1989).