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Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Pitch Pine

Pitch Pine

(Pinus rigida Mill.)

  Pitch pine also is known as hard pine, black pine or yellow pine. It grows on dry ridges and slopes in the mountains and outlying hilly regions at elevations up to about 4,500 feet. The tree usually grows 50 to 60 feet tall, with trunk diameters of 1 to 2 feet. It can be found scattered or in small groups with hardwoods or other pines.

Pitch pine needles are 3 to 6 inches long, rigid, dark yellow-green and are marked on three faces by numerous fine white lines (stomata). Needles are in three-leaf clusters. Cones are 1 1/4 to 2 3/4 inches long, have scales tipped with curved, rigid spines and remain on the tree for several years.

The branches often are thick, contorted and pendulous, giving the tree an irregular, ragged yet picturesque crown. The bark is broken into thick, plate-like scales that are yellowish-brown on older trees. Tufts of needles often are found along the trunk.

Pitch pine is used for lumber and pulp, and minor wood products. Wild boar in the southern Appalachians dig out the roots of this pine and eat their bark and soft outside wood.
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