Pinus rigida - Pitch Pine


Pitch pine is a 40-70 ft. evergreen with an irregular, globular form; twisting, gnarled, drooping branches; and scaly, reddish-brown bark which eventually becomes black. Stiff, yellow-green needles, in clusters of three, eventually turn dark-green. Medium-sized tree often bearing tufts of needles on trunk, with a broad, rounded or irregular crown of horizontal branches. Cones occur in whorls of 3-5.Now used principally for lumber and pulpwood, Pitch Pine was once a source of resin. Colonists produced turpentine and tar used for axle grease from this species before naval stores were developed from the southern pines. Pine knots, when fastened to a pole, served as torches at night. The common name refers to the high resin content of the knotty wood. Pitch Pine is suitable for planting on dry rocky soil that other trees cannot tolerate, becoming open and irregular in shape in exposed situations. This hardy species is resistant to fire and injury, forming sprouts from roots and stumps. It is the pine at Cape Cod; and the New Jersey pine barrens are composed of dwarf sprouts of Pitch Pine following repeated fires.