Gathering pine needles

Gathering pine needlesIMG_0328IMG_0330I gather pine needles in the South Carolina sandhills, an area where longleaf pine trees grow among scrub oaks and various types of underbrush.  I then dry them in my studio for 3-4 months, which allows the needles to shrink before they are eventually used in a basket.  Even though the fresh needles dry to a light green color, they eventually fade to their natural bronze color as they are exposed to sunlight.  My quest is to identify the longest pine needles in a specific area. I have discovered that the longer needles grow on young trees that have yet to start sending out horizontal branches.

The photos are of a young longleaf pine tree before and after I have gathered its bounty.  I respect the source by making sure I do no damage or over collect from an individual tree.  To the inexperienced eye, I leave no footprint as I gratefully and quietly move through the forest.  This tree provided me with 18-20 inch pine needles.