Pond Pine (Pinus serotina) is also known as Pocosin Pine, Marsh Pine or Black Pine. This pine grows up to 15 to 20 meters in height, occasionally up to 30 meters. The Pond Pine has a crooked growth pattern and an irregular top with numerous sprouts and a thin crown. Pond Pine is found along the Atlantic coastal plain of the eastern United States, from southern New Jersey to Florida and westwards to southern Alabama.
The bark of the Pond Pine tree is thick, furrowed with scaly flat plates. It is 1.3 to 2 cm thick. The color of the bark is blackish grey to reddish brown.
Pond Pine needles are found in bundles of three or four. They are 15-20 cm in length. They are green to yellowish green in color. The pine needles are thin, stout and slightly twisted. They persist for a period of 3 to four years.
The male cones of the Pond Pine tree are almost rounded, 3-4 cm long and are found in clusters at the base of new shoots. The cones are covered by small prickles on the scales. They are greenish yellow to pinkish brown.
The female cones of the Pond Pine tree occur singly, paired or in clusters near the tip of new shoots on high branches. They are dull brown to reddish brown in color and are 5-6 cm long at maturity. The female cones of the Pond Pine are serotinous (they open up, only to an external environmental trigger to disseminate the seeds). The cones require fire to open them up.
Pond Pine tree Cones can remain on the tree for as long as 12 years. Cone production starts when the tree is about 10 years old. The seeds are 3 mm long and are triangular or oval in shape.
Pond Pine tree is found in wet habitats near ponds, bays, swamps and pocosins (a type of wetland). The name of the Pond Pine tree is derived from the unopened cones. The cones remain closed for several years before they release the seeds. They open in response to external triggers, in this case fires. Some botanist consider Pond Pine as a subspecies of Pitch Pine.
Pond Pine is most frequently found on water logged lands. The poor growth of the Pond Pine is due to the poor aeration and water saturation of the soil. Soil saturation deprives the roots of the oxygen required for respiration and growth.
Pine seed are eaten by many species of birds and rodents. Pond Pine tree also provides habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers.
The Pond Pine tree is an excellent source of pulpwood, saw timber and firewood.