Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Pitch Pine - Pinus rigida
The Pitch Pine - Pinus rigida is a 3 needle pine with random or adventitious branch habit and clustered cones. The tree can grow either upright or with a crooked trunk, always with an irregularly shaped rounded crown. Reaching heights upwards of 100 feet and 36 inches dbh (diameter at breast height) at maturity. It is native to upland or lowland sites that may considered otherwise infertile, sandy dry or even boggy type soils are all suitable for the Pitch Pine. It can be found at elevations ranging from 0-1400 m from Georgia in the South to Maine and Quebec in the North. The Pitch Pine is the dominant tree in the Pine barren forest of New Jersey, however in the rest of it's growth region it is secondary to the Virginia (Scrub) Pine, Table Mountain Pine, Eastern White Pine, Atlantic White Cedar, and various types of Oak (depending on the region).
Image Citation: T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org
The Pitch Pine has the ability to resprout even when cut off at the base of the tree, this makes it extremely hardy and able to survive even after forest fires which can kill off anything green. The wood of the Pitch Pine is considered to be decay resistant, this is due to the high resin content. Pitch Pine lumber has been used in Ship Building, for Mine Props, as Railway ties and distilled to produce Pitch. Pitch Pine is considered to be ecologically important in it's native range as it is an important forest tree and the seeds are a foraging source for wildlife in the Winter.
The bark of the Pitch Pine is red-brown in color and deeply furrowed with long irregularly shaped, flat scaly ridges. The needles are 5-10 cm long straight, stiff, sharp and a deep green to yellow green in color, occurring in bundles of 3 (rarely 5) that are held within a sheath that is 9-12 mm long. The pollen cone in approximately 20 mm long and yellow in color, while the seed cone is often clustered 3-9 cm long and a light reddish brown color. Cones on the Pitch Pine can remain on the tree for many years.