Table Mountain Pine, Pinus pungens
Table mountain pine (Pinus pungens) is native to the Appalachian Mountains located in the United States. This pine also goes by the name of hickory pine, prickly pine, or mountain pine.
The Table mountain pine grows best in dry conditions with soils that are made up of clay, loam, or sand, and is found scattered throughout the rocky slopes from Georgia to Pennsylvania. This pine grows best in higher elevations from 984 feet to 5780 feet with the bigger trees growing in the southern areas of the Great Smokey Mountains. This pine can also be found growing in the vast gorges of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Table mountain pine is considered small to medium sized, growing from 19.6 feet to 39.3 feet high with a crown that measures 34 feet. The bark of this tree is dark brown and very scaly. The needles are yellow-green and grow in bundles of two, sometimes three. The needles measure 1.57 – 2.75 inches. This pine produces both pollen and seed cones with the pollen being released at different times depending on elevation. The cones grow in clusters of two to seven. The male cone is reddish purple while the female cone is deep green when immature and ripens to a light brown. The cones are oval and measure 1.57 – 3.54 inches long. The scales on the cone have a very sharp spike on the tip that measures 0.15-0.39 inches long.
The Table mountain pine is used for fuel as well as pulpwood. The trees also provide watershed protection as well as soil erosion control needed on the rocky mountain slopes.
Image Caption: Table mountain pine (Pinus pungens). Credit: Bruce Marlin/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)