Planting Pines in Limpopo: A Guide to Choosing Between Pinus elliottii, Pinus greggii, and Pinus patula

Selecting the appropriate pine species for plantation forestry requires careful consideration of factors such as growth rates, yields, growing regions, and climate preferences. This informative article aims to guide you through the decision-making process by comparing three notable pine species: Pinus elliottii, Pinus greggii, and Pinus patula.

Pinus elliottii: A Champion of Subtropical Timber Production

Pinus elliottii is a moderate to fast-growing species, boasting an impressive yield of 18-22 m³/ha/year in well-managed plantations (Dvorak et al., 2000). This tree is primarily used for pulpwood, timber, and plywood production. Native to the southeastern United States, P. elliottii has found success in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland as well (Dvorak et al., 2000). This species thrives in subtropical and warm temperate climates with moderate rainfall, making it a great choice for foresters operating in such regions.

Pinus greggii: The Adaptable Performer

Pinus greggii is a moderate to fast-growing species known for its adaptability (Richardson et al., 2007). Although specific yield information is limited, P. greggii is primarily used for timber, pulpwood, and reforestation efforts. This species originates from Mexico, particularly the Sierra Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre Occidental mountain ranges (Richardson et al., 2007). P. greggii can adapt to various climates, from semi-arid to cool and temperate regions, and is suitable for moderate to high elevations. Foresters seeking a versatile and resilient species should consider Pinus greggii.

Pinus patula: The Highland Specialist

Pinus patula is a moderate to fast-growing species with an average annual increment of 10-15 m³/ha/year (Krugman & Jenkinson, 1974). It can produce around 250-300 m³/ha of timber in a 15-year rotation, making it an attractive option for timber, pulpwood, and particleboard production (Krugman & Jenkinson, 1974). Originally from Mexico, P. patula has been widely planted in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and other African countries. This species flourishes in cool and moist highland regions with a minimum annual rainfall of 800 mm (Krugman & Jenkinson, 1974). For foresters working in high-altitude regions with ample rainfall, Pinus patula is an excellent choice.


When deciding which pine species to plant, foresters should carefully consider factors such as growth rates, yields, growing regions, and climate preferences. Pinus elliottii is best suited for subtropical and warm temperate regions, Pinus greggii offers adaptability and resilience in various climates and elevations, and Pinus patula excels in cool, moist highland regions. By understanding the specific needs of your plantation, you can make an informed decision that ensures optimal growth and productivity.


Dvorak, W. S., Hodge, G. R., Romero, J. L., & Kietzka, J. E. (2000). Pinus elliottii var. elliottii × Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis hybrids in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 30(6), 956-967.

Krugman, S. L., & Jenkinson, J. L. (1974). Pinus patula. American Woods: FS-249. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, D.C.

Richardson, D. M., Rundel, P. W., Jackson, S. T., Teskey, R. O., Aronson, J., Bytnerowicz, A., … & Fuentes, E. R. (2007). Human impacts in pine forests: past, present, and future. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 38, 275-297.

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