Pitch pine (Pinus rigida) is a common pine of Eastern North America, ranging throughout the Appalachian Mountains and New England from Maine and New York south to Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia. Pitch pine is especially common in the pine barrens and pine plains of New Jersey, where sandy, nutrient-poor soils and frequent wildfires limit competition.
Pitch pine is variable in habit, though genetic variability doesn't change much within the range. In good soils, pitch pine grows quickly, reaching heights of 70 feet. In poor soils where wildfire is frequent, growth is more scrubby, topping out at 15 feet or so. Pitch pine mixes in with Virginia pine (P. virginiana) and Table Mountain Pine (P. pungens) on dry, rocky slopes in the mountains. Pitch pine is the softest-needled of these 3 pines, with 3 needles in a cluster.
Pitch pine is sometimes used for rough construction such as fence posts - It isn't a very strong wood but it does have a lot of resin making it quite rot resistant. It's value is especially in conservation, adding genetic diversity to landscapes and providing food for birds and small mammals.
Pitch pine is a good tree to use in areas with poor, sandy and gravelly soil where little else will grow. It is often found with Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) and Trailing Arbutus (Epigea repens) in the understory.
Pitch pine is an adaptable tree and very easy to grow. It doesn't grow well in waterlogged soils, but as long as the drainage is decent it grows well. Plant 12 to 15 feet apart and water after planting, after that it should be fine. Some protection from deer and rabbit browse may be necessary for the first few years.
We grow Pitch Pine in our 1-Quart SuperPlugs, a fabric container that results in a well-developed root system for fast establishment.
|Common Name:||Pitch Pine|
|Botanical Name:||Pinus rigida|