The native range of pitch pine. (From Little, 1971.)
The form of pitch pine varies greatly from area to area. In the New Jersey Pine Plains, dwarf trees are characteristicly less than 3.5 m (12 ft) tall, while in Pennsylvania, trees may grow to 30 m (100 ft) tall. Site and soil conditions, as well as fire, play an important role in growth and form of pitch pine throughout its natural range.
Soils and Topography
"Generally, pitch pine grows on Spodosols, Alfisols, Entisols, and Utisols. In southern New Jersey, the pH of the A and B horizons range from 3.5 to 5.1 and in northern New Jersey, from 4 to 4.5. Pitch pine grows on sites with a wide range of moisture conditions. In southern New Jersey it is found on excessively drained, imperfectly drained, and poorly drained sands and gravels, as well as on muck soils in the white-cedar swamps. Even in the hilly regions it grows on both well drained and excessively drained slopes and in the swamps.
"In New England it is most common in the coastal districts and in river valleys. In New York it is not common above 610 m (2,000 ft), but in Pennsylvania it grows at all elevations up to the highest point in the state 979 m (3,213 ft). In the Great Smoky Mountains and vicinity, pitch pine is found at elevations between 430 and 1370 m (1,400 and 4,500 ft). In hilly sections, pitch pine often occupies the warmer and drier sites, those facing south or west."
"Usually, the most common shrubs growing with pitch pine on upland sites are lowbush blueberries (often Vaccinium vacillans or V. angustifolium) and black huckleberry and dangleberry (Gaylussacia bacata and G. frondosa). Some stands include bear oak (Quercus ilicifolia), dwarf chinkapin oak (Q. prinoides), and mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia).
"Lowland sites where pitch pine predominates have a variety of shrubs. Common ones include sheep-laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), staggerbush (Lyonia mariana), inkberry (Ilex glabra), dangleberry, highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), and swamp-honeysuckle (Rhododendron viscosum)."
"In view of its relatively low tolerance and its requirement of mineral soil for germiniation, pitch pine can best be maintained in stands by even-aged management with seedbed preparation and control of competing hardwoods.
"Fire has been largely responsible for maintaining pitch pine type and also has been responsible for the sprout origin, comparatively slow growth, and poor form that characterize this species. One severe fire may eliminate nonsprouting associates such as white pine (Pinus strobus); repeated severe fires may eliminate such species as shortleaf pine (P. echinata) and white oak (Quercus alba) which do not produce seed at as early an age as pitch pine and bear oak."
"At Placerville, CA, the Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station crossed pitch pine with shortleaf, pond, Table Mountain, and loblolly pines. Pitch × loblolly hybrids (P. × rigitaeda) are produced in large quantities in South Korea for commercial plantings. Early field trials in Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey showed only slight promise. With more careful selection of parent trees and extensive screening trials, the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station produced hybrids with exceptionally fast growth, good form, and witner hardiness for much of the natural range of pitch pine."
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