University of Tennessee
Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
Our Center Home Page Arboretum Home Page

Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)

Pitch Pine The main distribution of Pitch Pine is in the Northeastern U.S., but it extends south along the Appalachians and adjacent Valley and Ridge physiographic province. Although it is not common in our area, several individuals, planted in 1965, can be seen near the Arboretum's Program Shelter.

Pitch Pine is most abundant on unfavorable sites having poor soils such as the Pine Barrens in New Jersey and low swampy areas on the Atlantic Coastal Plain. In East Tennessee, the species is found primarily on dry, rocky ridges.

Historically, Pitch Pine provided a source of pitch and timber for ship building. The high resin content of the wood makes it resistant to rot and suitable for use as mine timbers and railroad ties. Pitch Pine is now most commonly used for rough construction, pallets, crates, and fuel.

Pitch Pine Bark Pitch Pine Needles and Cones The needles of Pitch Pine are 2.5 to 5 in. long, borne in fascicles of 3. The cones are broad, up to 3.5 in. long and wide and have prickles on the thick cone scales.

Pitch Pine exhibits several adaptations to fire. Its thick bark can protect the tree from damage from light fires. Some of its cones are serotinous, an adaptation in which the cones do not open until subjected to heat from fires. Another interesting adaptation is its ability to regenerate vegetatively after disturbances such as fire from basal sprouting and epicormic branching (development of needles and short branches directly from dormant buds on the trunk or branches).

Return to Tree List

University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu