Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Pitch Pine, Northern Pitch Pine
Pinus rigida

Family: Pinaceae (py-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pinus (PY-nus) (Info)
Species: rigida (RIG-ih-duh) (Info)

One member has or wants this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
Pale Green

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By claypa
Thumbnail #1 of Pinus rigida by claypa

By claypa
Thumbnail #2 of Pinus rigida by claypa

By claypa
Thumbnail #3 of Pinus rigida by claypa

By claypa
Thumbnail #4 of Pinus rigida by claypa

By claypa
Thumbnail #5 of Pinus rigida by claypa

By claypa
Thumbnail #6 of Pinus rigida by claypa

By famartin
Thumbnail #7 of Pinus rigida by famartin

There are a total of 19 photos.
Click here to view them all!


4 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Dec 5, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I love all pine trees! I first saw a Pitch Pine planted in a yard in Downingtown in se PA. I recognized it by an irregular habit, needled sprouts coming from the trunk, and needles in fasicles of 3 being about 5" long. It was growing fine in a good quality clay soil that was barely acid in a residential yard. I told the owners that it was a special tree that one does not see just anywhere. It grows wild all over the pine barrens of southern New Jersey and in some of the different spots of serpentine barrens in far southeast Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. It also grows in different spots of the Appalachians and in New England, as Cape Cod. Places of dry, low nutrient soils; whether the acid, sandy soils or the shallow soils derived from serpentine rock that have high amounts of chromium, magnesium, nickle, and other elements that are toxic to most plant growth in high amounts.

Positive famartin On Aug 25, 2007, famartin from Trenton, NJ wrote:

While some people do not like this tree's sometimes gnarled adult form, I am absolutely in love with it. Otherwise, the tree is hardy and tough, and so long as it is not planted in shade or in VERY saturated conditions, it should thrive.

Positive claypa On Jul 25, 2007, claypa from West Pottsgrove, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Pitch Pine is in the sub-genus Pinus, also called the yellow or hard pines, along with Loblolly Pine (P. taeda), Shortleaf Pine (P. echinata), and Pond Pine (P. serotina), with which this tree hybridizes. The name rigida refers to the stiff, thorny projections on the cones. The cones normally stay on the tree for a couple years.

The needles are in bundles of three, about 5 inches long. Pitch Pine and Pond Pine (P. serotina) can have epicormic shoots, needles or small twigs and branches growing from the mature trunk.
These trees will grow in a wide variety of soils, and are an important food source for small mammals and birds. The open branching habit provides perches for larger birds like eagles and herons, especially near water.

Positive melody On Jan 27, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

The only 3 needle pine where the 1/2 inch branches are fiberous and tough. They do not snap cleanly when bent sharply.

Cones are between 1" and 3" long and the outer tips are tiped with thorns, making them uncomfortable to handle without gloves.

This is the common pine of the famous SE New Jersey Pine Barrens


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Benton, Kentucky
Union Bridge, Maryland
Lawrence, Massachusetts
Mashpee, Massachusetts
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Egg Harbor City, New Jersey
Neptune, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey
Sag Harbor, New York
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Nottingham, Pennsylvania

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