Pine Straw 101, Part 2
Are there different types of Pine Straw?
There are several different types of pine straw common to the
Southeast, and they are typically grouped into two sub-categories: long
needle and short needle.
Short needle pine straw is sometimes called “loblolly” after the loblolly
pine tree from which it originates. These trees are very common all
over the southeastern United States, and also range as far west as
Texas and as far north as New England. The needles from a loblolly
pine average from four to six inches in length.
Long needle pine straw typically comes in two sub-varieties, slash and
southern long leaf, and are also named for the trees from which they
are obtained. Long needle pine straw is termed such because the
needles from the slash and southern long leaf trees are significantly
longer, thicker, and coarser than those found in bales of short needle
pine straw. The slash and southern longleaf pine have smaller ranges,
being particular to the southeastern states. The needles from a slash
pine average from seven to nine inches in length, while the needles
from the southern longleaf pine average from seven to sixteen inches in length. The needles from the longleaf pine are also considerably thicker than those found on the slash pine, and typically have a deeper, more reddish color after they have fallen and dried.
What type of Pine Straw should I use?
Speaking from the perspective of one who has both sold and used pine
straw for many years, I have found that the southern long leaf pine
straw is typically the most desirable. The Straw Farm only sells long
leaf pine straw. Due to the thicker, coarser nature of the southern long
leaf needle, it is much longer lasting than other varieties of pine straw,
as it takes longer to biodegrade. It also tends to have a brighter, redder
color than other varieties of pine straw, making it more appealing in
terms of appearance. On the downside, it is more expensive than other
varieties of pine straw due to its more limited availability, but long
term, the additional cost for southern long leaf pine straw is made up
for by its longevity. Southern long leaf pine straw users may only need
to replace their pine straw every six to nine months or so in normal
weather conditions (unusually heavy rainfall tends to break down pine
straw faster than dry weather), whereas slash pine straw may only last
two to four months, and short needle pine straw even less. Therefore,
the additional cost per bale for southern long leaf pine straw is usually
well worth the investment, as it will not need to be applied or replaced
as often as other varieties.