Pinus rigida

Pitch Pine, Northern Pitch Pine




  • native to Eastern North America
  • cold hardy to zone 4
  • often found on poor, sandy soil that fails to support other species

Habit and Form

  • evergreen tree
  • open conical shape, becoming more irregular with age
  • typically 40 to 60' wide and 30 to 50' wide
  • medium texture
  • medium growth rate, slows down as tree reaches mature height

Summer Foliage

  • stiff and slightly curved needles
  • 3 needles per fasicle
  • margins serrate
  • needles twisted and roughly 4" long
  • dark green color, with new growth having a yellowish hue

Autumn Foliage

  • no fall color (remains green)
  • needles persist 2 years


  • monoecious
  • no ornamental value


  • light brown cone
  • ovoid-conical in shape, 2 to 2.5" long
  • held in clusters of 3 to 5
  • cones tend to pesist on the tree for a few years


  • light brown
  • armor plated bark with deep fissures
  • new stem bark is rough and spiny


  • light sandy soil prefered
  • needs well-drained and acid soil
  • full sun
  • salt tolerant

Landscape Uses

  • good for native forest setting or in poor soils
  • interesting for its open, unusual and often picturesque growth habit with age


  • may be difficult to grow under cultivation
  • does not compete well with other plants on good growing sites

ID Features

  • needles in 3's, twisted and serrated
  • armor-plated bark
  • tree has a fairly open growth habit for a pine
  • short, small branchelets arise directly from trunk and main branches
  • persistent cones


  • by seed, no treatment is needed for good germination


'Sand Beach' - A selection found growing along a beach in Maine, this is a low-growing, prostrate form with densely borne, medium green foliage of heavy texture. Its salt tolerance, cold hardiness and acceptance of poor soil makes this selection attractive to gardeners with poor cultural conditions.

'Sherman Eddy' (also known as 'Little Giant') - This slow-growing, dwarf rounded form was found in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. It bears bright green, long needles and is suitable for cultivation in poor soil.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.