Often found growing in nutrient-poor, acidic, sandy soils, this hardy evergreen thrives along the coastal plains and sandy barrens within its native range across northeastern North America. Unique among pines of New England, it is tolerant of salt, herbivory, injury, and fire, often relying on the wildfires to clear space for colonization. As a stress response, it often sprouts new shoot growth, of which the cone’s needles are thick and rigid compared to other pine species.
The Haudenosaunee, Shinnecock, and Cherokee have used pitch pine wood for construction and carving, as well as the resin to treat ills such as burns, cuts, constipation, boils, and inflammation, among others. Its seeds, dispersed throughout the fall and winter, are consumed by numerous mammal and bird species, including deer, squirrels, pine grosbeaks, pine warblers, wild turkeys, and blue jays. Further, these irregularly branched trees may grow up to 80 feet and serve as a nesting habitat for many bird species as well as a larval host for the pine-devil moth.