Pitch Pine, Pinus rigida

Pitch pine (Pinus rigida) is native to the northeastern United States from Maine to northern Georgia and west to Ohio and Kentucky with a few found in Quebec and Ontario, Canada. This pine can be found growing in coastal areas as it is somewhat salt resistant.

The Pitch pine grows from sea level up to 8038 feet above sea level. This tree grows in all types of soil from acidic sandy soils to the gravelly soils, and from the driest of areas to the wettest. This tree is a small to medium sized tree growing from 20-98 feet tall with a trunk diameter of up to 43 inches. The bark is red-brown, when mature, with deep uneven grooves in the trunk producing a scaly surface. Needles are dark green and grow in bundles of three, sometimes five, measuring 2.4-5.1 inches long. The needles grow slightly twisted, short, and sharp points. Pollen cones are yellow and measure 0.78 inches. Seed cones grow singularly or in groups of three, light red-brown when mature, and measure 1.18-3.54 inches long when open. Seeds are dark brown with some darker markings and measure 0.15-0.23 inches long with a wing span of 0.59-0.78 inches.

The Pitch Pine that has been burned makes a good bonsai plant due to the re-sprouting of new shoots from the damaged trunk forming stunted and twisted trees. The wood from the pitch pine was used in shipbuilding as the high content of resin made it rot resistant. The wood is also used for mine props, railroad ties, fencing, pulpwood, rough construction, and fuel.

The seeds from the pitch pine provide a source of food for squirrels, quail, pine warblers, pine grosbeak, and black-capped chickadees. Wild deer and rabbit forage on the young growth.

Image Caption: Pitch pine (Pinus rigida). Credit: Famartin/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)