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Pinus elliottii Engelm.

Slash pine

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Toxicity
  5. Description
  6. Germplasm
  7. Distribution
  8. Ecology
  9. Cultivation
  10. Harvesting
  11. Yields and Economics
  12. Energy
  13. Biotic Factors
  14. References


A major source of pulp and tall oils in the deep south of the United States. The wood is very hard, heavy, strong, coarse grained, and durable. It is used for construction and railroad ties. Terpin hydrate is the main synthetic product of turpentine used in pharmaceutical preparations, used as an expectorant in humans and for veterinary bronchitis (Morton, 1977). Other synthetics produced from pine are anethole, camphor, and dl-menthol. Tall oil rosin contains sterols, mainly sitosterol. Russians built a factory in 1968 to produce steroids from pine pulp extractives. They are also pioneering in the commercial production of vitamin A and E. Synthetic materials derived from turpentine are used in perfumery and to impart flavors suggestive of cinnamon, citrus, lemongrass, licorice, nutmeg, peppermint, and spearmint. Menthol from turpentine is added to cigarettes and cosmetic and toilet products (Morton, 1977).

Folk Medicine

Turpentine has long been used internally for catarrh, chronic bowel inflammation, colds, gonorrhea, leucorrhea, rheumatism, And various urinary complaints, rheumatism, and ulcers. Pine tar has been used for many ailments in the past, but lately it is prescribed only for external use in chronic and parasitic skin diseases. It shows up in several of the drugs I have resorted to in the futile efforts to cure my psoriasis. (I have had better luck in substituting rice flour for wheat flour with its glutin.)


Leaves yield ca 0.3% of a balsam scented oil compared to about 0.4% for longleaf pine. This leaf oil consists mostly of borneol, cadinene, camphene, and b-pinene. The natural oleoresin exudate from the resin ducts contains ca 66% resin acids, 25% turpentine, 7% nonvolatiles, and 2% water. Turpentine from slash pine contains 1-a-pinene, while that from longleaf contains some d-pinene. Pinene is the main constituent of turpentine. Dipentene and other monocyclic terpenes constitute 5–8% of gum and refined sulfate turpentine, 15–20% of wood and crude sulfate turpentine. Camphene constitutes 4–8% of wood turpentine, and 0% of gum turpentine. Rosin consists mostly of diterpene resin acids of the abietic (abietic, neoabietic, palustric, and dehydroabietic) and pimaric types (pimaric, isopimaric, and sandaracopimaric). Pine tar contains turpentine, resin, guaiacol, creosol, methylcreosol, phenol, phlorol, toluene, xylene, etc. Crude tall oil contains 40–60% resin acids, 40–55% fatty acids (mostly n-C18, 75% monoenoic, and 25% dienoic, with traces of trienoic and saturates), and 5–10% neutral properties (17).


Raised in the southern US like me, Sam Page, of the FDA, tells me that as a child he was given oral doses (a couple of drops on the tongue) of turpentine as a mosquito repellant, an effective but dangerous application. My mom applied it to cuts and sores as a disinfectant, perhaps less dangerous. (Duke, 1984b)


A fast-growing tree, 15–30 m tall, the trunk attaining a diameter of .6 to 1 m with short, thick branches. Outer bark dark gray, furrowed, breaking into oblong plates; inner bark red-brown. Needles, in 2s or 3s, 18 to 30 cm long. Cones (in spring) are rose-purple and 6 mm thick, the male 3.8 to 5 cm long, densely clustered; the female ca 1.25 cm long. Cones red-brown, maturing and dropping in the second fall, are 7.5 to 14 cm long, narrow-ovate, broadly ovate when open, each scale tipped with a short, straight or recurved spine. Seeds ovoid, 6 mm or more long, smooth, gray, with a glossy, brown, membranous wing 1.5 to 3.5 cm long (17).


Reported from the North American Center of Diversity, slash pine, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate hardpan, sand, slope, small fires, and waterlogging. Fast growing strains, resistant to pests and diseases, high in oleoresins, are being developed. When two seed orchards for improved strains were established in 1969, it was estimated that they would not impact the extractive industry for 40 or 50 years (Morton, 1977) (2n = 24)


Native to southeast US (South Carolina to Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana). Cultivated and naturalized in east Texas. Widely planted in subtropical plantations, e.g. Brazil, India.


Ranging from Warm Temperate through Subtropical Moist Forest Life Zones, slash pine is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 11.2 to 16.0 dm (mean of 2 cases = 13.6), annual temperature of 18.8 to 23.3°C (mean of 2 cases = 21.0), and pH of 5 to 7.7 (mean of 2 cases = 6.4).


Seeds sprout about 2 weeks after planting. Discing the ground following natural or artificial seeding provides for a better, seed-soil contact. Tree can be propagated by grafting and air-layering (Morton, 1977). Not as fire resistant as the longleaf pine, slash pine farmers avoid burning until trees are 3.5–4.5 m tall.


Since 1910, pine oleoresins have been derived from heartwood chips (a lumbering by-product) and from stumps and roots. A ton of wood would yield about 5 gallons of turpentine spirits. Around 1930 more turpentine, rosin, etc. was derived from the wastes of the Kraft sulphate paper processing, a ton of sulphate pulp yielding ca 40 kg "tall oil". Trees begin to bear seed when about 10 years, not attaining full fertility until more than 20 years old.

Yields and Economics

Morton (1977) reported ca 7.5 million hectares in longleaf and slash pines, the two major sources of the resin and turpentine products sold in the US. Around 1935, slash pine replaced the longleaf pine as the leading source of oleoresin, formally called "naval stores". A single tree ca 30 cm in diameter, can average more than 5 kg gum a year over a four year period. Until about 1930, tapping was a main source (80%) of the pine gum produced in the US, down to 5% when Morton's Major Medicinal Plants was published. By 1970, 40% of domestic rosin and 70% of domestic turpentine were byproducts of sulphate paper production (Morton, 1977).


Reports in India (Kaul et al, 1982) indicate that total biomass ranges from 169 MT/ha in 10 year old stands to 529 MT/ha in 40 year old stands, indicating annual productivity rates of ca 17 MT/ha/yr in the 10 year olds, 13 MT/ha/yr in the 40 year old stands. Aboveground biomass constituted 81–85% of the total. In Florida, Wang et al. (1982) estimate slash pine yields at 9.4 MT/ha/yr. Pine resins have heat values of 34,018–37,798 kj/kg. Fuel value of slash pine can be upgraded by increasing the resin content, thus increasing the energy content by as much as 12.7%. Wang et al tabulate selected properties of slash pine biomass with and without being resin soaked.

Table 1. Selected properties of slash pine biomass components collected from northcentral Florida.z

Biomass property
Biomass component Heat of combustionz
Densityy (g/cm3) Moisture contentx (%) Ash contentx (%)
Stemwood 19,749 0.51 99 0.3
Stembark 20,875 0.27 74 0.7
Branch 19,691 0.41 169 Not measured
Foliage 20,478 Not measured 153 1.9
zFrampton, 1980
yOn dry weight basis
xBased on dry weight and green volume

Table 2. Selected properties of resin-soaked slash pine wood collected from northcentral Florida.z

Wood sample Heat of combustion (kj/kg) Moisture content (%)
Bolt 1y 22,952 29.0
Bolt 2x 21,227 51.9
Bolt 3w 19,921 91.1
zKossuth et al. (1980) 20-yr-old slash pine was treated with 2% paraquat and harvested after 24 mo.
yBolt 1 = first 152 cm above the treatment site.
xBolt 2 = second 152 cm above the treatment site.
wBolt 3 = the remaining merchantable bole to a 7.6 cm inside diameter.

Biotic Factors

According to Morton, seedlings are prey to the weevil, Hylobius pales and the pine webworm, Tetralopha robustella. Young and old trees are subject to fusiform rust (Cronartium fusiforme) and pitch canker (Fusarium lateritium forma pini). Mature trees are attacked by red heart (Fomes pini), butt rot (Polyporus schweinitzii) and root rot (Fomes annosus). Bark beetles (Ips spp.) cause much damage, especially during droughts. The black turpentine beetle (Dendroctonus rerebrans) breeds in stumps and attacks mainly trees that have been tapped for gum. Cones are attacked by the rust Cronartium strobilinum and the cone moth (Dioryctria sp.) (Morton, 1977). Browne (1968) lists the fungi Amylostereum sp., Armillaria mellea, Cronartium conigenum, Dothistroma pini, Fomes annosus, Fomes noxius, Fusarium spp., Lophodermium pinastri, Macrophoma pinea, Peniophora sacrata, Peridermium harknessii, Physalospora rhodina, Phytophthora bochmeriae, Phytophthora cinnamomi, Polyporus tomentosus, and Sclerotinia fuckeliana, and the coleoptera, Aesiotes notabilis, Graphognathus leucoloma, Hylastes angustatus, Hylurgus ligniperda, Lipsanus iniquus, Perperus lateralis, and Pityophthorus pulicarius. Pineus laevis is listed under hemiptera. Hymenoptera listed are Atta sp., Neodiprion lecontei, and Sirex noctilio. Lepidoptera listed include Arachnographa micrastrella, Aroa melanoleuca, Hyalarctia huebneri, Lachriolepis nephopyropa, Lophodes sinistraria, Nudaurelia cytherea, and Rhyacionia subtropica. Listed under aves are Alisterus scapularis, Calyptorhynchus funereus, and Platycercus eximius, and under mammalia, Leggada minutoides, Lophuromys sikapusi, Macaca irus, Mus musculus, Otomys spp., Phacochoerus aethiopicus, Potamochoerus porcus, Rattus rattus, Rhabdomys pumilio, Sus scrofa, Sylvicapra grimmia, Thryonomys swinderianus, Tragelaphus scriptus, Trichosurus caninus, Trichosurus vulpecula, and Wallabia sp. Among the nematodes, Golden (p.c. 1984) lists: Belonolaimus euthychilus, B. gracilis, B. longicaudatus, Caucopaures sp., Helicotylenchus dihystera, Hoplolaimus galeatus, Meloidodera floridensis, Meloidogyne arenaria, Tylenchorhynchus claytoni, and Xiphinema americanum.


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw