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Know Your Trees: 5 Common North Carolina Tree Species

Know Your Trees: 5 Common North Carolina Tree Species 

Most people have no difficulty recognizing their favorite brands of household goods whenever they see the company logo affixed to the product. However, not nearly as many people are able to correctly identify the trees which are growing in their neighborhoods, and sometimes even in their own backyards. Here are some details about some of the most common North Carolina trees which will help you to quickly identify them whenever the you see them in your area.

Loblolly Pine

This species of pine tree is native to 15 states in the southeast section of this country. The loblolly pine is sometimes referred to as Southern Yellow Pine, and it is the second most common tree found in the US, behind only the Red Maple. It normally grows well in swampy areas and in low lands, and in fact that’s where it’s name comes from. In the old South, loblolly was a term which was applied to a mudhole, and these trees grew very well in those conditions. Loblolly pines grow very quickly and are often intentionally planted in forests for usage as lumber and pulpwood. They grow to be well over 100 feet tall, and can be easily identified by the gray, scaly bark and dark green needles which they display.

Oak genus

There are approximately 600 known species of oak trees, and about 90 of them grow very well in the US. Oaks are generally easy to identify because acorns grow on them and will fall down to the base when ripe. They also have unique leaves which are arranged spirally, and make them distinctive. Oak trees have tremendous strength and can survive in quite a few different environments, and they can actually live to be hundreds of years old.

Red Maple

This tree species is one of the most striking North Carolina trees, and it is easily identifiable by its vibrant red foliage which appears during the autumn of the year. It can grow to heights over 100 feet tall, and is characterized by leaves which have between three and five lobes, each of which is separated by V-shaped angles. Red maples have become so dominant in eastern states of the country that they have taken over entire forests, pushing out pines, oaks, and other trees which were originally native to those areas.


Sweetgum trees are easily recognizable by their star-shaped leaves, which are five pointed and which turned brilliant colors in the fall, for instance yellow, orange, purple, and red. They are considered an annoyance by some homeowners because of the sharp, prickly fruits which they drop. The tree gets its name from a gummy substance which oozes from branches or bark whenever it sustains some kind of wound. Sweetgum trees will grow up to 120 feet tall and generally grow very straight, which is a fact that makes them very useful for lumber applications.

Yellow Poplar

Yellow poplar trees are sometimes called tulip trees, because they exhibit brilliant yellow flowers. They bloom in the spring, and at a young age the bark is smooth and dark green, but in a more mature state, the bark becomes rough and rigid, and turns grayish brown. Yellow poplars are the tallest eastern hardwood tree, growing to heights of 160 feet tall, and they also grow very quickly. It can be a difficult tree species to provide adequate care for, because it is particularly susceptible to a number of diseases and pests. It must have a good deal of sunshine in order to thrive in a given environment, and it will always do best where the soil is well-drained and slightly acidic.