34. Longleaf Pine

Longleaf Pine once dominated around 92 million acres in the southern U.S. from Virginia to Texas. It was a major source of valuable timber and a leading source of tar, pitch, and turpentine known as naval stores. A virgin forest of scattered Longleaf Pine with an understory of grasses and wildflowers once covered this spot and much of Aiken County. Now reduced to a mere remnant, it has been replaced by agriculture, development, and short rotation plantations of Slash and Loblolly Pine. The vibrant and diverse Longleaf Pine ecosystem was maintained by frequent low intensity ground fires. Prescribed fire is now being used to restore examples of this ecosystem in Aiken's HItchcock Woods and elsewhere in the South.