Pitch pine (Pinus rigida)
The pitch pine is the emblematic tree of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Their bent and twisting silhouette is unlike any other tree here. Pitch pine are a medium-sized tree growing to 80ft., although their growth form varies depending on where they are found in the eastern United States (in some places, pitch pine occur in a dwarf form and even in a prostrate mat). Their rigid and slightly twisted needles grow in clusters of three unlike the soft droopy needles of a white pine that grow in clusters of five. Pitch pine have a symbiotic relationship with fungus. Known as a "mycorrhizal" relationship, the tree and fungus work together benefitting one another.
Habitat: Pitch pine do well in poor soil conditions, and thrive in the sandy nutrient-poor soil of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. While they do not tolerate shade, they are adapted to surviving reoccurring wildland fire.
- Pitch pine is also called “candlewood pine” because early colonists burned the resinous pine knots for illumination.
- Pitch pine was also burned in kilns to make pine tar, a material used in shipbuilding in the 17th century.
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