Pitch Pine

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This interesting tree is found in environments which other species find unsuitable for growth, such as acidic, sandy and low nutrient soils. It is known as a “pioneer species,” since it is often the first tree to vegetate an area after it has been cleared away.

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Pitch Pine has an exceptionally high regenerative ability; if the main trunk is cut or damaged by fire, it can re-sprout using epicormic shoots.

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This is a rapid-growing tree when young, gaining around one foot of height per year under optimal conditions until the tree is 50 – 60 years old, whereupon growth slows.

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Pitch Pine trunks are usually mostly straight with a slight curve to them. They are covered in irregular, thick, large plates of bark. Its globular form of twisting, gnarled, drooping branches does a poor job at self-pruning.

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This is one of the most fire resilient eastern conifers. Its adaptations allow for survival in a high frequency fire area such as the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.

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High resin content in this species produced the name “Pitch Pine.” Early American settlers would often ignite pine knots for torches. Because of its high resin content, its decay-resistant wood was once popular for ship building, mine props, railroad ties and fencing.

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Today Pitch Pine Pitch is an important food source for wildlife. Sprouts and seedlings serve as browse for White-tail Deer, Cottontail Rabbits and Meadow Mice. Its seeds are eaten by Red Squirrels and a wide range of birds.

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