Trees of North America- A guide to field identification-a Golden Field Guide from St. Martin's Press © 2002 By C. Frank Brockman p.28
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The Encyclopedia of North American Trees by Sam Benvie. Firefly Books Ltd.,2000 Buffalo, NY © 2000 Sam Benvie p.176. 177
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USDA, NRCS. 2011. The PLANTS Database (<http://plants.usda.gov/>, 22 August 2011). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901
Reeves, Sonja L. 2007 Pinus pungens. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2011, August 22].
Map courtesy USDA NRCS PLANTS Database
Pinus pungens Lamb.
State List: GA, IL, MD, NC, NJ, PA, SC, TN, VA, WV
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Common names: Hickory Pine, Mountain Pine, Prickly Pine, Southern Mountain Pine
ENDANGERED in New Jersey
Home>Families>Pinaceae> Pine (Pinus)>Table-Mountain Pine (Pinus pungens)
A slow growing native conifer, Table-Mountain pine is a small tree, usually with a crooked trunk, only reaching 25 feet in height in the first 20 years of development. The oldest known tree is 227 years and can be found in southwest North Carolina. Pinus pungens grows up to 60 feet, most are around 50 feet tall. The single trunk, reaching a diameter between 2 and 3 feet, supports a narrow, rounded crown made of stout, horizontal branches. Like the Spruce Pine, this tree species grows branches in between the whorls of main branches. Needles are borne in bundles of 2, are 1.5 to 3.5 inches long and range in color from dark to yellowish green. An unusual property of
Synonym: Pinus pungens MICHX. f.
these stiff and twisted needles, is their lemon scent when bruised. Evergreen, the needles are persist, meaning they stay on the tree, for 2 to 3 years before falling off. Also persistent are the cones, which are borne in whorled clusters of 2 to 7. Each scale of the Table-mountain pine cone is woody and tipped with a stout, upcurved prickle. Most often serotinous, meaning having a fire or heat activated
seed release, the female cones are 2.5 to 3.5 inches long and are globose (nearly spherical) at first, turning lustrous brown and conical when mature. The bark is typical of most pines and is rough and fissured into irregular, flaky plates but can be much smoother on young trees. Triangular seeds are .25 inches long and have a single 1 inch wing.
Table-mountain pine is endemic to the Appalachian Mountains and while adapted to soil textures of all types, it prefers rocky, shallow, well-draining soils with a pH between 4.5 and 7.0 at high elevations. It is shade intolerant and often found on slopes, ridges and outcroppings, where seedlings have anchored their taproot into a crack or crevice in exposed rock surfaces. Annual rainfall needs are 36 to 60 inches but Pinus pungens does have a high drought tolerance. It is cold hardy down to -18°F and requires 165 frost free days a year.
Pests, Disease and Elemental
Table-mountain Pine is susceptible to frost damage and severe winter storms with ice build up can cause limb breakage. Insect pests are mainly the Table Mountain Pine coneworm, which can result in a total seed crop loss during the worst of the infestations. The European sawfly is also associated with Pinus pungens and may defoliate the previous year's growth in its entirety but rarely kills.
Like all pines, turpentine can be distilled from the resin and has been used in times past in treatments of a variety of ailments. Respiratory complaints like coughing, bronchitis, common colds, and influenza were eased by steam baths and inhalers. Skin problems, wounds and sores were also treated with poultices and salves. In the late 1800's, it was even used to treat tuberculosis. Moreover, all pine seeds, regardless of species, are edible. Waterproofing articles can also be done by using the resin. When heated, the warm resin can also be used as a glue and strengthened by mixing in ash dust if used immediately. The vitamin and sugar rich inner bark can also be chewed once the outer bark is removed. Factors such as difficult harvest sites, tree size, and its crooked trunk, make commercial uses of this particular pine species limited. Occasionally it is used as pulpwood and small timber products and it is rarely planted as an ornamental. Table-mountain pine, however, is valuable in watershed protection and management, as well as erosion control on mountain slopes. Although not commercially valuable, this native tree provides seeds, a valuable food source, for a variety of birds and small mammals, including the American Red Squirrel.
Photo citation: Steve Hurst @ USDA NRCS PLANTS Database
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