Pinaceae (Pine) Family
The leaf needles are 5-8 inches long; 3 to a bundle; slender, stiff, yellow-green and slightly twisted. The bark is black-gray or reddish-brown, furrowed into scaly plates that may appear triangular or rectangular in shape.
The seed cone (fruit) is 2-4 inches long, and nearly round or egg-shaped when open; shiny yellowish-green; nearly stalkless on the branch; light brown at maturity; remaining closed for many years on the tree. The cone scales are slightly raised and keeled, with prickles that usually shed before the cone falls to the ground.
While the Pond Pine is scattered throughout the forest little or no distinction is made from other pines in the vicinity, thus it is frequently cut and marketed with the other pines. Its chief utilization is as pulpwood. Some authorities consider the tree to be a variety of the upland Pitch Pine but their differences are quite marked and their distribution is distant.
To identify a young tree, one might first notice tufts of pine needles protruding from the bark crevices. These tufts rarely become stout branches and are quickly shed leaving a knot-like bump on the tree. This characteristic in no way detracts from the quality of product.
The Latin description, serotina, indicates that the cone remains closed until exposed to intense heat, such as a forest fire, at which time the scales open and the tiny seeds (mash) fall away. The small gray squirrel is chiefly responsible for dislodging the cones before nature has a chance to do its work.
"Pocosin" is an Indian name for pond or bog, alluding to this species' habitat. The Latin name serotina, meaning "late," refers to the cones, which remain closed for years before opening.