Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Table Mountain Pine - Pinus pungens   Lambert
Members of Pinaceae:
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Section 3 » Order Pinales » Family Pinaceae
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DistributionPresent throughout the Mountains, and widely scattered in the western Piedmont, mostly on monadnocks and ridges. Eastern records might well be non-natural occurrences.

This is an Appalachian species, ranging in highlands and foothills from northeastern PA south to northern GA.
AbundanceFairly common, at least locally, in the Mountains, but rare to uncommon and local in the western Piedmont. Somewhat restricted in habitat.
HabitatThis species is characteristic of exposed, rocky mountaintops, outcrop margins, xeric slopes (especially south-facing ones), cliffs, and other barrens. Many of the sites where it is numerous are protected in state parks, national forests, and other conservation lands.
PhenologyPollen is released in May, and cones mature in September and October.
IdentificationThis is probably the least often seen, or least known, pine to most people in the state, though it is by no means hard to find in the right places, especially by visiting natural/conservation areas. It is a stocky, small to barely medium tree, growing mostly to about 50 feet tall. As it often grows in exposed rocky places, the trees may be stunted, contorted, or otherwise irregular in shape. It has quite short needles, being in bundles of two to at times three; the needles are thick and only about 2 inches long. What makes this pine so special, or unique, is its quite stocky, heavy, and strongly "spined" cones that are about 3 inches long, usually a bit longer than the needles. Throwing a cone at someone can injure the person, as the spines are quite sharp. Certainly, handling a mature cone must be done with care.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Bur Pine, Hickory Pine, Prickly Pine, Mountain Pine
State RankS4
Global RankG4
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