Heart Pine, put simply, is wood from the center or “heart” of the tree. Although it may be the heartwood of any of a number of species of pine, it’s most often from the Longleaf Pine, which covered much of the coastal plain of the South from Virginia to Texas when Europeans first arrived on the continent.
A boon to those pioneers, the golden-red heartwood of the Longleaf Pine was stronger — and also more attractive — than most pine, and was used extensively in the construction of homes, ships and more. In fact, it came to be known as the “King’s Wood”, as it was reknowned for its beauty and durability. By the late 19th. century, the Longleaf was being felled in vast numbers, tranported to mills from further and further inland by river and manmade canal.
By the early 20th. century, the huge Longleaf forests had almost disappeared, with perhaps only 2 or 3 per cent of the original forests intact. With extinction a genuine threat, those forests became protected preserves. Not surprisingly, the growth and expansion of the Longleaf are now encouraged, but it takes hundreds of years for its dense heartwood to form.
As a result, Heart Pine from newly felled trees (known as “New Heart Pine”) is an extremely rare commodity today, and people go to great lengths to acquire “Antique Heart Pine” by reclaiming it from old buildings. In this way, the beauty of the wood can be enjoyed by many more generations, without further depopulation of the forests. So prized is Heart Pine that it’s also salvaged from river-bottoms, where the occasional Longleaf log came to rest many decades before, after being lost in transport. At Relaxed Cottage Living, we’re pleased to offer this exquisite reclaimed wood as an option on many of our Dining Table tops, Desk tops and more. Appropriately, it’s a feature of many items found in our Coastal Cottage collections (along with Cherry and Walnut).