The Gymnosperm Database


Tree in habitat, Bar Harbor, Maine [Réjean Drouin, 2017.07].


Illustration from Sargent (1947).


Cone on a tree at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, NC [C.J. Earle, 2004.10].


Ornamental tree showing bark, and the species' propensity for sprouting of epicormic buds on the trunk. University of Washington, Seattle [C.J. Earle, 2015.12.20].


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Conservation status

Pinus rigida

Miller 1768

Common names

Pitch pine; pin rigide [French].

Taxonomic notes

It is known to hybridize naturally with P. echinata (Kral 1993). The two species introgress over a wide area in eastern Kentucky (and perhaps elsewhere where sympatric), producing trees with very small, P. rigida-shaped seed cones, and larger seed cones that are intermediate between the normal shape for each species (R. Clark email 2009.12.15).


"Trees to 31 m; trunk to 0.9 m diam., straight or crooked, commonly with adventitious sprouts; crown rounded or irregular. Bark red-brown, deeply and irregularly furrowed, with long, irregularly rectangular, flat, scaly ridges, resin pockets absent. Branches arching-spreading to ascending, poorly self-pruning; 2-year-old branchlets stout (mostly over 5 mm thick), orange-brown, aging darker brown, rough. Buds ovoid to ovoid-cylindric, red-brown, ca. 1-1.5 cm, resinous; scale margins fringed, apex cuspidate. Leaves 3(-5) per fascicle, spreading to ascending, persisting 2-3 years, 5-10(-15) cm x 1-1.5(-2) mm, straight, twisted, deep to pale yellow-green, all surfaces with fine stomatal lines, margins serrulate, apex abruptly subulate-acuminate; sheath 0.9-1.2 cm, base persistent. Pollen cones cylindric, ca. 20 mm, yellow. Seed cones maturing in 2 years, shedding seeds soon thereafter or variously serotinous and long-persistent, often clustered, symmetric, conic to ovoid before opening, broadly ovoid with flat or slightly convex base when open, 3-9 cm, creamy brown to light red-brown, sessile to short-stalked, base truncate, scales firm, with dark red-brown border on adaxial surface distally; apophyses slightly raised, rhombic, with strong transverse keels; umbo central, low-triangular, with slender, downcurved prickle. Seeds broadly obliquely obovoid-deltoid; body 4-5(-6) mm, dark brown, mottled darker, or near black; wing 15-20mm. 2n=24" (Kral 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

Canada: Ontario and Québec; S through USA: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Upland or lowland sites on sterile, dry to boggy soils; at 0-1400 m elevation (Kral 1993). See also Thompson et al. (1999). Hardy to Zone 4 (cold hardiness limit between -34.3°C and -28.9°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Distribution data from USGS (1999).

Big tree

Diameter 129 cm, height 29 m, crown spread 13 m, located in Newberry, NH (American Forests 1996). The tallest known one is 44.6 m tall, 71 cm DBH, and grows near the West Fork Chattooga River in Georgia (Riddle 2016). Another very tall tree in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 41.27 m tall (Rucker 2003).


The oldest known tree was found growing at Mohonk Lake, New York by E. Cook in 1973. He collected specimen 420411, presumably from a live tree, and it had 351 rings. This is a crossdated age (NCDC 2006).



A low-grade timber species (Kral 1993).



It is fire successional, sprouts adventitiously, and is frequently shrubby in the northern part of its range (Kral 1993).


American Forests 1996. The 1996-1997 National Register of Big Trees. Washington, DC: American Forests. This is a dated citation; the big tree register is now available online.

Miller, P. 1768. The Gardener's Dictionary, ed. 8. London. Available:, accessed 2011.05.20.

[NCDC 2006] Data accessed at the National Climatic Data Center World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Tree-Ring Data Search page, 2006.09.08. URL:

Riddle, Jess. 2016. West Fork Chattooga River Pines., accessed 2017.11.04.

Sargent, Charles Sprague. 1947. The Silva of North America, Vol.XI, Coniferae. New York: Peter Smith. Plate DLXXIX. Cited at the Arnold Arboretum website:, accessed 2005.09.17, now defunct.

See also

Gucker, Corey. 2007. Early postfire response of southern Appalachian Table Mountain-pitch pine stands to prescribed fires in North Carolina and Virginia., accessed 2009.03.28.

Knebel ond Wentworth (2007).

The FEIS database.

Last Modified 2017-12-29