Stargazing, Ocala National Forest, Florida
Photograph by Nick Zantop
Bright moonlight illuminates a stand of longleaf pines in Ocala National Forest. These beautiful pines take 100 to 150 years to reach full size and can live to 500 years. Forest fires are common in Ocala National Forest, but the longleaf pine is well suited to survive and even benefits from fires which kill other trees, allowing Longleaf Pine forests to flourish.
New seedlings appear as grass-like tufts and can take several years to grow to ankle height. Even during the grass stage, the Longleaf Pine is highly resistant to fire, which burns off the ends of the needles but is unable to penetrate the tightly packed needle bases containing the bud.