Loblolly pines, Pinus taeda, are the most widespread pine in central NC and throughout much of the southeastern US. They give the piedmont a distinctive look and feel where the tall, straight trunks and deep green foliage dominate many of the natural areas. In 1964, Forestry researchers from NC State University collected seed from a witch’s broom in Virginia. Cuttings from these seedlings were planted around the JC Raulston Arboretum. They make lovely small trees over time as John Grimshaw in his exceptional book New Trees: Recent Introductions to Cultivation writes:
By far the most interesting and horticulturally useful versions of P. taeda are the dwarf trees growing at the JC Raulston Arboretum. Dwarf is a misleading word as it suggests a low bushy plant; these are slow-growing short trees with dense rounded heads – pygmy might be a better term.
They have been distributed under several names, ‘J.C. Raulston’, ‘Dixie’, ‘Nana’, and ‘Cochran’ to name a few but the precise parent of these named selections has not been tracked and some of the named forms are known to have been propagated from multiple trees. Since the trees are not clonal, it is more fitting to give them a group designation hence the name NCSU dwarf group as first suggested by John Grimshaw. Seedlings from these trees tend to produce about 20% dwarf progeny which can be separated out in less than 6 months from germination. Grow them in full sun and relatively well-drained soil. Established plants are quite drought tolerant. Mature plants are difficult to graft but not impossible.
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