Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) on a Rock Outcropping, Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Photo of Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)

A scrubby pine only a few feet tall growing mostly horizontally, on a sloped rock outcropping, with water in the background

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Taken on Oct. 12, 2022

This photo shows a pitch pine (Pinus rigida) growing on the south-facing slopes of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine.

The stunted, scrubby growth habit is typical of pitch pine growing on harsh sites such as this rock outcropping. The warmer, drier south-facing slopes are better habitat for this species, which prefers very dry conditions, than north-facing slopes, although you can find a few pitch pines growing on the gentle north-facing slopes near the summit.

This is only one of many dry, harsh habitats this species can be found on. It also is found on coarse, excessively-drained sands both along the coast, and inland where such sands were deposited by glaciers or originated as relict dunes of glacial lakes. However, this far north, moving inland, on coarse sands this species becomes replaced by jack pine (Pinus banksiana). It is more dominant on these inland habitats slightly farther south, from southern New England, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and much of the Appalachians.

Photographer & Copyright

© Rachel Stringham

Photo Source

CC BY 4.0

Inclusion in Plant ID / Comparison Guides

This photo is featured in 1 plant ID/comparison guide:

collage of Pitch Pine and Loblolly Pine

Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) vs. Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)

Updated February 4th, 2023

These species have only a small range of overlap, but can be easily confused in this region. Both can have yellow-green needles in bundles of three, and both can occur in sandy soil. They are easily distinguished by differences in cones, sprouting, needle length, and form. P. rigida is usually found in dry, barren, fire-prone habitats such as rock outcroppings or excessively-drained sands, whereas P. taeda is most likely on moist, rich sites, and on poorly-drained sites. These two pines can hybridize in the wild, and hybrids are also planted in landscaping, so it may not be possible to identify all individuals.

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