Pitch Pine

Pinus rigida

The most common pine in the Alper Preserve, pitch pine is the signature tree of southeastern Massachusetts, the one forming the pine barrens, a globally rare ecosystem whose components are adapted to frequent fires. These pines are not as tall and straight as white pines (up to just 50-60 ft), often rather crooked, typically with abundant cones in the crown. The bark of mature trees consists of massive reddish- or yellowish-brown plates separated with cracks. The thick bark protects reserve buds that quickly replenish the crown if it is damaged in a fire. Pitch pine needles are dark green, stout and stiff, bundled together in threes. They contrast with soft and delicate, bluish-green, five-to-a-bundle needles of neighboring white pines. Masses of pollen produced by pines in May create a yellow skim on the surface of the ponds. Cones are just a couple inches long and 2/3 as wide. They are prickly when fresh: each scale is fortified with a short sharp prickle.

See all photos for this species at salicicola.com

Pitch pines regrowing their crowns after a fire, Myles Standish SF

May 23