A tree reaching about 80 ft in height, with a trunk 2 to 3 ft thick, often sending out adventitious shoots from the trunk and older branches; young shoots glabrous, pale brown; buds cylindrical, resinous. Leaves in threes, falling the third year, 3 to 41⁄2 in. long, rigid, twisted, dark green, margins minutely toothed; leaf-sheath 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. long. Cones very variable, ranging from conical to almost globose, and from 1 to 31⁄2 in. long; occasionally small and numerous in clusters, long persisting; scales terminated by a short prickle.
Native of eastern N. America from S. Quebec to Georgia and Tennessee; introduced in the early 18th century. As a rule it is rather a scrubby tree of little ornament, but in some collections it has attained a height of 60 to slightly over 70 ft in height and up to 8 ft in girth. The example at Kew measures 56 × 5 ft (1970) and there is one in the Pinetum of the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley of 66 × 8 ft (1970). It is very well distinguished by the small branches springing directly from the trunk. Some trees produce these twigs so freely that the trunks are almost covered with foliage, but the twigs never get very large, and mostly die after a few years.
P. serotina Michx. Pond Pine. – This is closely allied to P. rigida, and seems to differ chiefly in its greater length of leaf (twice as long). It is tender, and very rare. Native of the south-eastern United States from N. Carolina to Florida.