Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Pinus rigida Miller
PINACEAE (Pine Family)
EtymologyPinus is the ancient Latin word for pine; rigida means stiff-leaved, from the Latin for rigid.
DescriptionA medium-sized evergreen conifer, Pitch Pine thrives along the coastal plain of the Northeas. It is particularly dominant on Cape Cod and in the pine barrens of New Jersey, where it frequently grows in a twisted and irregular habit rather than straight and tall. Pitch Pine is the most fire-resistant of the conifers of the Northeast, surviving fires that kill other trees around it, Older trees may bear black scorch marks on their thick gray-brown bark. Well-adapted to fire, Pitch Pine can resprout needles from the crown or rejuvenate from either the the terminal shoot or the stump; its closed cones will often pop open after a fire, increasing seed germination. Pitch pine gets its name from the resin it produces.
Wetland indicator statusFACU
Plant Height40-60 feet
LeavesEvergreen, long (3-5"), stout needles in bundles of three; wavy, stiff, dark green; also grow in clusters from tree trunk; needles fall off after 2-3 seasons.
FruitCone stout (1 1/2 - 3"), egg-shaped, brown and woody; cone scales are tipped with a sharp prickle.
Fruiting PeriodApril-May; may open when mature; persist for 2-3 years.
HabitatUsually in dry, rocky, or sandy soils; sometimes in acidic peatlands along the coast.
RangeSouthern Maine to southern Ontario; south to northern Georgia; coastal plain.
Associates
Trees:
Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides)
Gray Birch (Betula populifolia)
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Shrubs:
Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron viscosum)
Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)
Purple Chokeberry (Photinia x floribunda)
Red Chokeberry (Photinia arbutifolia)
Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)
Sweet Gale (Myrica gale)
Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia)
Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Similar Species
White Pine (Pinus strobus) has five needles per bundle, Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) has two [rarely three], while Pitch Pine has three needles per bundle. Also, White Pine has long, thin, cylindrical cones. Pitch Pine is the only pine of the coastal plain that grows as far north as New England.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett