South Florida Slash Pine
Pinus elliottii var. densa
The South Florida Slash Pine or Dade County Pine as it’s known by some, only grows south of Orlando. It is one of only two native pines in South Florida, the other being the Sand Pine. The South Florida Slash doesn’t grow quite as tall as its North Florida relative. Typical mature height is around 50 to 55 feet but does have a wider, spreading crown. One of the favorite sites for the South Florida Slash Pine to grow was the Dade County Rocklands. Unfortunately, most of those stands of pines were destroyed by Hurricane Andrew.
The wood on the old growth South Florida Slash Pine is very dense, hence “var. densa.” It is so dense in fact that I’ve heard you can’t drive a nail in it and must drill a hole first. The wood is also touted as being termite proof. Most of the historical homes in South Florida were made from this wood.
The South Florida Slash Pine is better adapted to frequent fires than the North Florida variety. The South Florida Slash Pine seedling goes through what is called a “grass stage” where it looks more like a tuft of grass and can stay this way for years. In this stage the bud is insulated by all the needles from fire damage.
South Florida Slash Pines are very sensitive to disturbance and soil compaction so they don’t handle development well. Due to hurricanes and development, South Florid Slash Pines are becoming rarer and rarer. You can see some great specimens in Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park.
Drought Tolerance: High
Salt Tolerance: High
Growth Rate: Medium to fast (once out of grass stage)