Most people are familiar with pine cones. But those are the woody, female cones. Not everyone would recognize this herbaceous bloom as the male cone, but it’s a beautiful thing in its own right. The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) was once the dominant tree of the South, covering 92 million acres throughout the region. Today, it survives on just 3 million scattered acres. Responsible landowners have begun to plant them in an effort to restore habitat and state agencies throughout the South manage them on public lands. For a beautiful illustrated work on the subject, check out Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See, from the University of North Carolina Press. For a volume that speaks lyrically of the ecology of our wonderful South Georgia forests and the human culture they’ve always supported, read my friend Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood.