Structural Characteristics of Frequently-Burned Old-Growth Longleaf Pine Stands in the Mountains of Alabama


J. Mogan Varner, III

Additional Authors:

John S. Kush and Ralph S. Meldahi


September – 2003


Alabama, Pine Stands, Burned

Age and structural characteristics were measured in two frequently burned old-growth mountain longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) communities along Choccolocco Mountain in northeastern Alabama. Stands studied were open-canopied and park-like (8.3 to 13 m2 ha-1 basal area; 282-297 trees ha-1), fitting historical descriptions of the now endangered communities. Maximum pine ages in the two stands exceeded 240 years. Both stands underwent continuous pine recruitment over the past 145 years, with all 5-year age classes represented. Congregations of even-aged pine patches were found throughout both stands. Multiple tree patches ranged from 15 to 170 years old. Large even-aged patches were present in both stands (up to 2124 m2), though isolated single trees were more common, accounting for about half of all patches. Continued work on pristine remnant forests and savannas is necessary due to their increasing rarity and importance as reference models for management and restoration.