The Gymnosperm Database

P serotina cone

Cone from a tree at Weymouth Woods, NC [C.J. Earle, 2006.03].

P serotina

Bark of a specimen on a lakeshore at the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, SC [C.J. Earle, 1999.03].


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Conservation status

Pinus serotina

Michaux 1803

Common names

Pond pine (Kral 1993), marsh pine, pocosin pine.

Taxonomic notes

Syn: Pinus rigida Miller subsp. serotina (Michaux) R.T. Clausen; P. rigida var. serotina (Michaux) Hoopes (Kral 1993).


Trees to 21 m tall and 60 cm dbh, "straight or more often crooked, commonly with adventitious sprouts; crown becoming ragged, thin, often broadly rounded or flat. Bark red-brown, irregularly furrowed and cross-checked into rectangular, flat, scaly plates. Branches spreading to ascending; twigs stout, orange- to yellow-orange, frequently glaucous, aging darker. Buds ovoid to narrowly ovoid, red-brown, 1-1.5(2) cm, resinous. Leaves 3 per fascicle (to 5 in adventitious or disturbed growth), spreading to ascending, persisting 2-3 years, (12)15-20(21) cm × 1.3-1.5(2) mm, slightly twisted, tufted at twig tips, straight, yellow-green, all surfaces with fine stomatal lines, margins serrulate, apex acuminate; sheath 1-2 cm, base persistent. Pollen cones cylindric, to 30 mm, yellow-brown. Seed cones maturing in 2 years, in some populations beginning to shed seeds then but more often variably serotinous, long-persistent, often whorled, symmetric, ovoid to lanceoloid before opening, broadly ovoid to nearly globose when open, 5-8 cm, pale red-brown to creamy brown, sessile or on stalks to 1cm, scales with dark red-brown border on adaxial surface distally; apophyses slightly thickened, low, rhombic, low cross-keeled; umbo central, low-conic, with short, weak prickle, sometimes unarmed. Seeds ellipsoid, oblique at tip, somewhat compressed; body 5-6 mm, pale brown, mottled darker or nearly black; wing to 20mm. 2n=24" (Kral 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

USA: New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida & Alabama at 0-200 m elevation in flatwoods, flatwoods bogs, savannas, and barrens (Kral 1993). Hardy to Zone 8 (cold hardiness limit between -12.1°C and -6.7°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001). See also Thompson et al. (1999).

Distribution data from USGS (1999).

Big tree

Diameter 104 cm, height 27 m, crown spread 16 m, located in Thomas County, GA (American Forests 1996).




Plantation P. serotina much resembles P. taeda, with which it hybridizes naturally. It is of increasing importance as pulpwood (Kral 1993).


Personally, I have seen it in the Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in North Carolina, and in the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge. Both areas provide a chance to study the species in a relatively pristine ecosystem, but neither area provides truly exceptional stands of P. serotina.


P. serotina is fire successional and sprouts adventitiously after crown fires. It is part of a distinct forest type including Taxodium distichum, Nyssa biflora, Magnolia virginiana, Persea sp., and Ilex sp. (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.

Michaux, A. 1803. Flora Boreali-Americana 2: 205. Available:, accessed 2011.05.21

See also

The FEIS database.

Last Modified 2017-12-29