Pitch Pine

Pitch Pine Tree

We don’t have many Pitch Pine where I live in Connecticut.  This one is in Southern Maine in an area that is essentially a tiny  sand barrens.  They are a great bushcraft/primitive skills tree for many reasons.  One can use them for tea or medicine the same way as any other pine (though the taste may be less appealing) and, as their name suggests they produce an abundance of “pitch” or more accurately sap.  Pine sap becomes pitch once it is mixed with another substance like wax, fat, or charcoal to make it more useful as glue, a lubricant or preservative.

Some people may not see this tree as beautiful in the same way the stately White Pine is.  Thriving in a difficult environment of sandy soil and adaptations to forest fire give it its own kind of elegance I suppose.

Pitch Pine cones and needles

Above and below show the needles and old female cones.  The needles are twisted and in groups of 3.

Pitch Pine Cone


Pitch Pine Male Pollen Cones

Above are male cones and below a partially formed female cone.  I am not sure if this cone is brand new or an unfertilized cone from last year.  These picture were taken in Feb and neither male or female cones start to grow until spring.  I saw many male cones and several female cones on the trees.

Pitch Pine growing cone

2 thoughts on “Pitch Pine

  1. Andy: I believe what you’ve labelled as male cones is actually a cluster of winter buds. Male pollen cones appear below new needle bundles on growing twigs, typically in late April and May. See a photo on my site: http://joshfecteau.com/meet-the-pines-pitch-pine/.

    The spiny female cone (in your last photo) is immature, approaching one year old. By this fall, the cone should contain ripe seeds, though depending on conditions, it may stay on the tree unopened for a while longer.

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