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Pitch Pine, An Important Tree in North America

Pinus rigida, A Top 100 Common Tree in North America


The species name of pitch pine (Pinus rigida) means rigid or stiff and refers to both the cone scales and the wide-spreading, sharply pointed needles. It is a medium-sized tree with moderately strong, coarse-grained, resinous wood that is used primarily for rough construction and where decay resistance is important.

1. The Silviculture of Pitch Pine

Pitch pine prefers rocky, sandy regions and very tolerant of poor soils. The older pine can be have very gnarly branches. As its name suggests, pitch pine is rich in resin (pitch) and very popular for starting campfires. The gummy tree is brittle and of little commercial timber value.

2. The Images of Pitch Pine

Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of pitch pine. The tree is a conifer and the lineal taxonomy is Pinopsida > Pinales > Pinaceae > Pinus rigida. Pitch pine is also commonly called black norway pine, black pine, hard pine and mountain pine.

3. The Range of Pitch Pine

Pitch pine grows over a wide geographical range-from central Maine to New York and extreme southeastern Ontario, south to Virginia and southern Ohio, and in the mountains to eastern Tennessee, northern Georgia, and western South Carolina. Because it grows mostly on the poorer soils, its distribution is spotty.

4. Pitch Pine at Conifers.org

Remarks: "It is fire successional, sprouts adventitiously, and is frequently shrubby in the northern part of its range."

5. Fire Effects on Pitch Pine

Pitch pine often survives fire, but trees may be top-killed or killed entirely. Pitch pine survival may be affected by tree size, bark thickness, time since last fire, surface soil conditions, fire severity, and/or fire season.

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