Use: Pollinator tree that attracts butterflies and birds
Native to: Jefferson County
While often confused for the Eastern White Pine, the Virginia Pine is like the crazy sister who is a bit wilder and free flowing.
The Virginia Pine was typically found along the Ohio River riparian in Jefferson County, but has nearly been expatriated from the county by the settlements, roads, and railroads. This evergreen tree is unique as it has a loose pyramidal growth that eventually forms a rounded flat top comprised of spreading branches.
In 1768, Philip Miller described the Virginia Pine in his quintessential work The Gardeners’ Dictionary as the perfect example of the American evergreen. The Mingo Tribe that lived in Jefferson County used the Virginia Pine for many purposes and planted the tree with great regularity from stock obtained from the Monongahela Valley where they are more plentiful. Medicinally, the Mingo people used it for many symptoms like stiffness of the body, colds, fevers, tuberculosis, and constipation. They also used Virginia Pine for certain cultural rituals. In burial rituals, the branches of the Virginia Pine were burned and the ashes were used for a fire in their homes to free the spirit while the tar held onto the memories Further to pay tribute to the wind that carried the spirits they would create a drink to toast the wind by using the needles of the tree to infuse an apple juice.
The Virginia Pine prefers well-drained loamy or clay soils; however, it will also grow on very poor soil where it will be smaller in size. The tree has been used widely utilized in reclamation projects as the tree will grow on strip mine ground.
The tree is a host plant for 193 species of butterflies and moths in the greater Jefferson County area including the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Fringed Looper. The Virginia pine attracts 19 different genera of birds which include Cedar Waxwings, Wood Warbler, Thrushes, and Grosbeaks.■