Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Pitch Pine, Northern Pitch Pine

Pitch Pine, Northern Pitch Pine

Pinus rigida

Full sun; medium to dry moisture level; prefers light, sandy soil; acidic pH.

40-60 feet height by 30-50 feet spread; very inconspicuous red to yellow male flowers and yellow to red female flowers in early spring; light brown, 2-3 ½ inch long cones, in clusters of 3-5, with sharp, rigid prickles.

Growth Rate: Medium in youth, becoming slower with age.

Maintenance: Frequent disease and insect problems. Frequent wind and ice damage.

Propagation: Seed germination code A

Native Region: Limited to the Ridge and Valley and Blue Ridge provinces

Evergreen species that varies greatly in form, habit and development. Generally has an irregular, global form with twisting, gnarled and drooping branches and scaly, reddish-brown bark. On exposed sites it can become very sprawling and grotesque in shape, while under better conditions it can have a straight, tall trunk and small open crown.   Not a highly ornamental tree but excellent for poor soils, wilderness and solitary places. Able to survive on the driest, sandiest, unproductive sites which other trees cannot tolerate. Principally used for lumber and pulpwood. Native to dry sandy or rocky mountain sites and yet also found in peaty, coastal swamps. Intolerant of competition from other trees. Cultivars available.

Very high wildlife value. Cones, which are produced at an early age, attract songbirds, upland birds and small mammals. Twigs and leaves are also important wildlife food.

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