The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) was once the South's most important timber species. It is associated with a distinct ecosystem that includes several endangered plants and animals. The pre-European extent of the ecosystem may have been as much as 100 million acres, yet extensive cutting in the 19th and 20th centuries has reduced this acreage to less than three million. We review the tree's importance to the region and document its spatial reduction in two states representing the species' core area: Florida and Georgia. In the last 60 years 90% of the longleaf pine acreage in these states has been lost. Unlike forests in the western U.S., southern forests are largely privately owned and longleaf pine on these lands is in jeopardy. Efforts at reintroduction are noted. Yet, without further incentives, education, and changes in public policy, privately held longleaf pine could largely disappear within the next three decades.