January 14, 2022
My grand old pine tree has got “character,” the arborist said.

By Mary Reid Barrow

 My grand old loblolly pine tree got  its annual checkup today when Nuckols Tree Care came to cut back the jungle in my yard.

My tree is on LRNow’s Notable Tree list, not for its age or size,  though I bet folks don’t see many pine trees of this stature around!  Instead it’s listed in the Notable Trees Special Category section because of its multiple twisted trunks!

I daresay it also was included because its owner cared enough about the tree to ask Notable Tree coordinator  Brent James to come look at it!

It truly is an eccentric and different pine.

My pine tree is a spreading tree that reminds me more of a  giant elm or oak, rather than a pine tree that grows soldier-erect  and tall like most pine trees grow.  No lumberman would chop down this tree for its wood.

And that could be why, so far,  this tree  has never been affected by hurricanes and strong nor’easters.  With multiple trunks going every which way,  the tree is not apt to snap in a strong wind  as other pine trees are wont to do.

The four trunks, growing like octopus arms,  bend and curve  as though they had grown with and been shaped by the wind,  not as though they had a misspent youth toughing it out against strong storms.

That is not to say that my tall spreading pine wouldn’t take out part of the neighborhood if it went down in a hurricane!  But so far it’s been an immoveable object.

After storms, I rarely pick up a pine branch, even a twig, in my driveway from my well behaved tree. My cars have lived under it for decades, suffering only from pine cone pings and  prolific pine sap.

It  grows on one of the older dune lines along the North End. Though many pines grow in  sandy dunes here and in the  First Landing State Park, loblolly pines are mostly denizens of lowlands. The name, “loblolly, comes from an old English word for a dark soupy porridge that was said  to resemble damp swampy areas where these trees mainly grow.

As far as other trees go, my pine is king of the jungle in my yard. There’s an occasional holly tree and one sweet gum, but mainly  the tree has  small and meek minions, like sassafras and persimmons, as its friends.

This year for the first time arborist  Nate Jones with Nuckols Tree Care spent some time up in the tree trimming a few dead branches, which worried me . I felt a little like the tree was in the dentist’s chair.   But Nate said, never fear, my tree was doing well.

“It’s got character,” Nate said.

Do you have a favorite tree or plant with a story to tell?  What relationships have you observed  between plants and critters?  Who eats whom?  Who has babies where?   Send an email to


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