Longleaf Pine Grafts

Photo: A native longleaf pine grafted plant matures to produce cones in the New Kent Forestry Center greenhouse.  Photo Courtesy: Bill Apperson.

At the New Kent Forestry Center in New Kent County Virginia the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is working to preserve the remains of the Native Longleaf Pine gene pool in Virginia. “Extremely rare and critcally imperiled,” according to the Department of Natural Heritage, the Longleaf Pine, is grafted as a first step to preserve this species native to Virginia.

Adapted to living in the environment of South Eastern Virginia, it's estimated that the Longleaf pine covered one million acres in the state at the time of the Jamestown colony. Today, only 200 trees from the native gene pool are believed to exist.

Native Longleaf pine branches are collected and grafted to a non-native root. The resulting grafted plant is grown in a greenhouse to produce seeds of the native tree. The cones in the picture at right contain seeds. Producing seed is one of several methods underway at the Forestry Center to preserve the native gene pool.

Outplantings of the grafted trees will be made on the VDOF Garland Gray Forestry Center in Sussex County, Virginia.